As part of their continuing mission to support foster children and families, Bloom is expanding their footprint in Fayette and revitalizing a familiar building.
Known as Du-Roc Cafe Pit Bar-B-Q for many years, the building on 54 approaching downtown Fayetteville sat vacant in recent years. Now, it will serve as a donation and volunteer center for Bloom, just a short walk from their main offices.
Bloom is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to offering safe refuge and supportive services to foster children and foster families throughout the state. One of their trademark services is The Bloom Closet, where foster children receive clothing, toys, and other important items at no charge. With 80 kids at a time in Bloom’s foster care program and 50 foster families, there was a pressing need for both learning space and a place to process donations for The Bloom Closet. Last year alone, the Closet was visited by more than 3,800 foster children from 90 Georgia counties, with over $730,000 in clothing and supplies given away.
The staging area set up in the old kitchen offered a snapshot with a white board laying out how far donations to the Bloom Closet go. In the month of July, Bloom received 1,076 bags of donations. Volunteers who worked 550 hours put 11,674 teams on the floor, with 11,423 items given to 355 kids.
“When you think of that number of kids, we needed space. We needed a bigger processing space where big volunteer groups could come in, and we can get more donations in,” said Executive Director Becky Davenport.
The 5,400 square foot building called The Hive opens up a lot of options. Even the large parking lot will help. There’s already been a back-to-school event, and a trunk or treat event will be there come October.
“The layout of this building is perfect for what we need,” said Davenport, noting that where they received food for the kitchen is perfect to receive donations, and the kitchen with its long table is ideal for processing. The old freezer even found a new purpose as storage for offseason clothing. “It has allowed us to increase the volume of donations because we now have a place to store and process the donations.”
The big hearts of Fayette are what made the expansion necessary, and Davenport has seen Bloom grow personally. Fifteen years ago, she was the only employee, and now there are 25. Bloom started out 30 years ago as Fayette Youth Protection Homes with two residential group homes and has evolved over the years. With 14,000 children in foster care in the Georgia and a goal to serve half of the foster kids in the state in the next three years, local support is key.
“People here have been so generous, and they’re looking to give. We literally have been able to provide clothing and supplies to foster kids across the state, and it’s mainly through people here in the county who are enabling us to do it. That’s pretty amazing,” said Davenport.
Even revitalizing the old building is fitting for Bloom’s vision.
“I have good memories of it (as a restaurant), and so many people do, and it was just sitting here for so long becoming an eyesore. We were really excited that we would be able to contribute to the community that’s given so much to us,” said Davenport. “We’ve had an amazing journey, due mainly to the generosity of this county, and we’re very excited to be able to take this building and turn it around.”
They’ll keep expanding to help every child in need. Long term, they hope to build a standalone Bloom Closet near the Hive, and in the short term they will debut a fashion truck, dubbed The Zoom Closet, in the spring. It will enable them to drive to underserved areas and deliver needed clothes and supplies.
“We’re really able to make a big impact on foster kids, and there’s such a need.”
For more information on how to get involved with Bloom, call 770-461-7020 or visit www.bloomouryouth.org.