The One Inc., the nonprofit organization that operates The Van and brings supplies to people experiencing homelessness in Central Arkansas, is seeking $35,000 in donations to allow it to purchase a new warehouse on 2.5 acres of land in South Little Rock, according to Aaron Reddin, founder of The Van and The One.
The Van had raised $19,240.00 toward its goal as of 11:30 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 7. The organization began accepting donations for the cause on Monday, Dec. 3.
In an email sent out Dec. 5, the organization shared that the cost of the new warehouse is $210,000. With $15,000 in the bank, it's trying to raise an additional $35,000 to cover the cost of a down payment and repairs to the building’s electricity and plumbing systems. It's already negotiated a contract on the new warehouse space, which Reddin said has a closing date of Dec. 20, so it's trying to raise the funds by that date.
Reddin would not specify the exact address, but he said the purchase of this new warehouse, and the large plot of land it sits on, would be an investment in the future of The Van’s services and mission work.
“The good thing about the new warehouse having that much space is that if we ever did need to add on, there’s plenty of room to do so,” Reddin said.
The organization would be able to secure its vehicles and trailers in a fenced-in area on the property, and Reddin said there’s potential to build a greenhouse on the land. Reddin also said The Van might purchase bees for the new property, which would add to the 11 bee hives the organization has at The Field, the urban farm located at its current warehouse property in North Little Rock.
“[There are] lots of different things we could do with
The Van’s current home, a warehouse at 8016 Faulkner Lake Road in North Little Rock, has served the organization’s basic needs for the past seven years, but problems with the warehouse’s septic system have debilitated the only toilet and shower at the facility, according to Reddin, and the nonprofit has been renting a port-a-john toilet for the last four months. While the warehouse does have two washers and dryers, Reddin said the plumbing system can’t support the multiple loads of laundry to wash and dry blankets needed when they open its emergency shelters at Levy Church of Christ and Second Baptist Church in downtown Little Rock.
Part of the $35,000 The Van is trying to raise would cover renovations to the new warehouse’s plumbing and electricity so it could avoid those problems in the future. Reddin said they would also be able to park the van inside the warehouse, so they could cut down on the time needed to defrost it during the winter months.
“A lot of those things that you don’t think about really consume a lot of time when it’s crunch time for our work,” Reddin said. “So it’s pretty exciting.”
Reddin and volunteers for The Van would be able to prepare the vehicles inside a heated facility, which according to Reddin, would be a welcome change from the current conditions.
“If we’re helping someone at the warehouse, or our volunteers, if it’s 26 [degrees] outside, so is that port-a-john toilet seat,” he said. “We’re not trying to get fancy or elaborate by any means; it’s an older building, it’s not new or anything like that, but it is more practical and more functional.”
In addition to the new warehouse being better equipped for the organization’s needs, Reddin said its location is much closer to Little Rock than The Van’s current warehouse off of Interstate 440, and he said he hopes this will lead to more volunteers coming out to help.
“I think we’ll see our level of volunteerism increase because of the location," Reddin said. “A lot of people don’t like driving way out off of 440. If it’s more than a 20-minute drive, a lot of people feel like it’s kind of inconvenient. It’s often times tough to get people to drive all the way out to where we are now, regularly. So I think the location will help us pick up some more help.”
If the organization is able to raise the $35,000 in the next three weeks, Reddin said it’ll begin moving into the new warehouse as soon as possible, winter weather conditions permitting.
Reddin said he’s confident they’ll be able to raise the money in time, as they’ve previously been able to count on their donor base in times of need.
“I don’t know that we’ve ever asked for help in upgrading our tools and not had people give whatever it took to make that happen,” he said.
And according to Reddin, this can largely be attributed to the generosity of donors in the state who recognize the importance of the services The Van provides and the "no
The Van is hosting a public workday in the current warehouse from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, and all proceeds from its upcoming "Hardcore For the Homeless" benefit at the Metroplex on Dec. 14 will also go toward funding for the new warehouse. Go to helpthevan.org to donate and learn more about the organization.