RACINE — About a half-dozen young adults on Monday took turns working a front-end loader, breaking up an asphalt parking lot to make way for a green space.
The Great Lakes Community Conservation Corps trainees were breaking ground on the future site of Giving To the Nations’ food pantry and community center, called A Place of Provision, at 1701 12th St., the former site of the J&W Drive In, which closed in the early 2000s.
The plan is to rebuild the southeastern corner of the lot for parking, break up the rest of the paved space and convert it to green space. Feeding the Nations has teamed up with the Root-Pike Watershed Initiative and BrightView Landscapes, a landscaping firm with an office in Milwaukee, to plan the green space.
Great Lakes CCC provides training opportunities for young people while doing projects related to water quality and habitat management. The group offered its services to Giving to the Nations for free.
Pastor Lynn Nys, a Giving to the Nations board member, called the collaboration between the groups “a win-win.”
“It’s a real pleasure to have our site be used as a training site for them,” she said. “It’s exciting that we can partner with another outreach in Racine to get it done.”
Nys said collaboration is key to the mission of the pantry.
“The goal of this property is to not only have the food pantry happening on the interior of the space, but have other community outreaches in the exterior of the space,” Nys said.
Giving to the Nations has been hard at work fixing up the former drive-in’s building. The roof has been repaired, new walls installed and plumbing installed to provide running water.
Nys said the organization is working on getting the furnace up and running and a Racine-area church has pledged to replace the building’s broken windows next month.
According to Nys, the biggest obstacle preventing it from opening is the decrepit parking lot. She and other members of the organization are hoping the recent warm weather will hold so they can repave.
Nys is optimistic they’ll be ready to open the pantry by the end of this year.