Donated downtown building will be meeting place for Kilgore nonprofits

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An “unexpected blessing” for Kilgore United Fund will, in time, to become an asset for local nonprofits and other groups in the community.

According to the fundraising drive’s co-president, Merlyn Holmes, one of the local campaign’s benefactors donated 109 S. Martin St. for the program’s use, signing over the property in October 2016. Since then, following a clean-up project on the aged building, another private donor is funding slow, steady renovations to turn the commercial setup into a meeting space for local charities.

No United Fund proceeds are being utilized in the project, Holmes noted; contributions to the annual United Fund campaign are allocated to its nonprofit beneficiaries (see separate story on Page 1).

With the donation of the building, however, and the support on the private donor, the same nonprofit beneficiaries, and others in need of a space, will eventually have a ready-made conference room in downtown Kilgore.

“That building has been here forever,” Holmes said. “It’s been so many different things: at one time it was a bakery, a cleaners … it was a sporting goods store at one time. It even housed the chamber of commerce at one time. It has housed many things there.”

According to Gregg County Appraisal District records, the 1,712 square-foot property was constructed in 1951. The Rudman Foundation granted it to United Fund of Kilgore Oct. 20.

“This came out of the blue. They just called me and wanted to know if we were interested in it.” Holmes said, grateful for the offer. Yes, “It needs a lot of TLC. That’s an understatement. We’re hoping that we can make it something worthwhile, not only for the United Fund but for Kilgore.

Using only earmarked donations, “It’s just going to take us a while to get it done.”

With a green light from the Gregg County Commissioners Court, earlier this year county trustees assisted in cleaning out the space.

Additional work is progressing as funds allow, Holmes said, and the United Fund is planning to use the space for a Nov. 11 garage sale hosted by AMBUCS of East Texas, part of the 2017 fundraising effort on behalf of 11 local nonprofits.

“This will be a place for us to house our United Funds things and give us a meeting building. Also, we’re hoping we can open this up to other nonprofits,” she added. “To me, it wouldn’t just have to be our beneficiaries. There are a lot of nonprofits out there that don’t ask for our funding, but they’re still nonprofits.”

The building won’t be manned, she confirmed, since there’s no personnel budget.

“It will be a meeting building. It will be just on an as-needed basis. We have so many of those nonprofits and events that have no home.”

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