The Future Planning Committee met with Susan Yow and Ellen
Perry of Shepherd’s Heart on 8/11/2021.
Vision and History
Susan explained the vision, operation and needs of
Shepherd’s Heart. Shepherd’s Heart is a 501(c)( 3) Non-Profit Corporation . Susan
explained that it was set up as a separate entity from the church at the
suggestion of the Church’s Stewardship Committee in order to obtain grants and
donations that would not be available to the church. In that, it has been
successful. It was always intended, and continues to be, a mission or ministry
of First Baptist Church, Lorena.
Shepherd’s Heart obtains food and other supplies from two
primary sources- The Austin Regional Food Bank that delivers food and supplies
to the Waco area and from Caritas which is another Food Bank distribution center.
Some of the food from Austin Food Bank costs
a small amount, but food from Caritas is free. Shepherd’s Heart Lorena is one
of the larger middle sized food pantries so they get a lower cost on food from
the Food Bank. The more food they order the price per pound goes down. The food
from Caritas is divided among those Food Banks that obtain food from it, so
that it is difficult to assess what and how much is received on a regular
basis. Thus, Shepherd’s Heart is frequently required to take more than can be
used, however, some is shared with other food distributions units in our area. Donations
to date have been more than enough to pay for the food and the excess has been
retained in a building fund. Currently there is about $250,000 available in the
building fund. Other designated grants have also been obtained such as a grant
to purchase refrigeration equipment. Some supplies, not food, are supplied
regularly from a Walmart warehouse, which also donates money to the pantry on occasion.
A local auto repair shop is taking most of the automotive supplies.
All the workers for Shepherd’s Heart are unpaid volunteers.
A number of the pantry patrons are also faithful volunteers. Patrons of the pantry must meet government guidelines and
fill out appropriate paperwork. Essentially, the pantry cannot discriminate as
to who receives assistance, thus it cannot just be church members. Shepherd’s Heart
has a software program that keeps track of qualified patrons, and prints identification
cards that can be scanned in. This greatly facilitates record keeping.
The challenge for Shepherd’s Heart is facilities space.
Currently there is a dedicated church classroom for food storage and several
other rooms used for intermediate storage. Food is obtained on Wednesday and
Thursday mornings, unloaded into two classrooms and distributed on Thursday
evenings. On Friday, all the classrooms must be put back in order and any excess food
stored. This involves a tremendous amount of labor. A dedicated building would
eliminate most of this shuffling of food and greatly reduce the workload. Currently
excess food, particularity fresh produce, diary and bakery items are shared
with several food distribution units in the surrounding area (Robinson, Lott, Moody, Golinda, and
Susan said that the current distribution of clothing
resulted when the previous organization that collected and gave out clothing
has not reappeared after the pandemic, and that the clothing is being donated
without request from Shepherd’s Heart. The unused clothes are re-boxed and
stored after each Thursday’s distribution.
Susan was asked about a succession plan when she is no
longer the director. She said she expected to be director for a long time, but
that she believed that the pantry would continue to operate. She suggested that
a paid part time director should be possible, paid for out of Shepherd’s Heart
donations. She believes that such would be a welcome job for a retired person or
young mother that had a heart for what the pantry is doing.
Susan would like to have a 5,000 square foot (50 ft by 100 ft) building dedicated to
Shepherd’s Heart’s operations. She provided a floor plan. This building would
be the size of the first floor of the current education building including the
kitchen and bathrooms, but not the fellowship hall. She said that she had a
cost estimate of $350,000 for a metal building of that size and configuration
but that was before the pandemic, and cost of materials, particularity steel,
have skyrocketed since then. A new estimate will be needed and is currently
being prepared. While it is preferred that the building be on Church property,
it could well be located elsewhere. However, there does not appear to be any
suitable sites available at a cost that is affordable. To purchase a site and
build is more costly than Shepherd’s Heart can afford or raise. It is believed,
by Susan, that that such a building would supply all the future facility needs
of the pantry. A smaller, perhaps expandable, building could meet current
Should the church choose to construct a building, Shepherd’s
Heart is prepared to contribute up to $250,000 to the cost given a suitable
lease or other agreement that guaranteed Shepherd’s Heart continued use. The
church would own the building. Timing was discussed. It seems likely that the
church will need the Sunday School rooms now being used for Shepherd’s Heart
food storage before a building could be constructed. There is also a current
need for space for refrigeration equipment from a grant that must be used by