Pizza profits are a step toward ending homelessness in Gainesville.
On Tuesday, Satchel’s Pizza announced that it will award $12,000 to Grace Marketplace, a homeless shelter joint-funded by the City of Gainesville and Alachua County Commissions. Grace has provided assistance and emergency shelter to the homeless in Alachua County since 2014.
The City Commission passed a motion in September to increase funding for Grace Marketplace following the county’s decision to reduce funding. Dignity Village, the homeless encampment surrounding Grace, remains open despite the city’s plans to close it by Jan. 1. Many of its residents turn to Grace for services.
Grace Marketplace is a project that has reduced homelessness by 36 percent in Alachua County since it opened six years ago. This year, it plans to move 500 people into housing, said Jon DeCarmine, the executive director of Grace Marketplace.
Because of its need for a box truck, Grace received the Satch Capital grant, which supports local nonprofits by funding specific projects like what Grace accomplishes, according to Satchel’s website.
Due to the lack of transportation, Grace has been limited in the amount of donated food and furniture it has been able to accept, DeCarmine said. Since it opened, the shelter has relied on volunteers with pickup trucks and a passenger van for transportation.
DeCarmine said purchasing a box truck will expand Grace’s ability to receive donations. It will also help transport items, given that the organization moves nearly one person into permanent housing each day.
“It’s one thing to help someone sign a lease, and it’s a completely different thing to fill that apartment with furniture so that it becomes a home,” DeCarmine said.
Grace has not yet received the check from the grant, he said. But once it does, it will purchase a box truck within three to four weeks.
The Satch Capital grant is supported by Satchel’s Pizza’s $1.50 ATM fee, which generates $2,000 every month, said the restaurant’s owner Satchel Raye.
The restaurant is cash-only, and its ATM raises about $25,000 in fees annually to fund this grant and other smaller ones.
“If we had VISA and Mastercard, we would not see any of that money,” Raye said.
Local 501(c)(3) charitable organizations are eligible for the Satch Capital grant, he said. A grant committee meets annually to discuss the proposals and choose a charity. Grace was chosen because of its need for a box truck.
“It’s really hard to figure out which is the most ‘deserving’,” Raye said. “A lot of times it boils down to who seems to need it the most or do the most.”
Contact Grethel Aguila at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @GrethelAguila.