By Josh Arntz
The Dickson Herald

Published Feb. 15, 2012

The Dickson County Help Center permanently opens for business today at its new downtown location.

Help Center staff and volunteers have worked to transition the center’s functions to the former General Insurance Underwriters building at 103 W. College St. over the past few months.

The center permanently relocated from 107 Myatt St. to the GIU building behind Ragan’s Friendly Neighbor Store this morning, and opened for business at 9 a.m. The center’s board of directors renamed the building in honor of longtime community servant Tom Waychoff during a special-called meeting Feb. 6.

The Help Center is a nonprofit, public corporation that provides aid in the form of food, clothing, prescribed medication, temporary shelter and limited financial assistance to Dickson County citizens on an emergency basis.

The center maintains a food bank, thrift store and assistance program. The center’s new College Street location will host a larger thrift store, corralling the assistance program and donation collection site all under one roof.

The move also has allowed the center to inaugurate a client-choice food bank – giving patrons the opportunity to select items from the food pantry with the assistance of a Help Center volunteer. Previously, the staff gathered the food items for clients.

Help Center Executive Director Renee Boehm is particularly proud of the client-choice food bank, and hopes Dickson County’s model will serve as an example for other food banks in Middle Tennessee.

The center’s new location has doubled the thrift store’s retail space to 15,000-square-feet, allowing for a larger selection of items. The thrift store’s revenue covers the center’s overhead costs (staff salaries, utilities, etc.), with leftover profit going to the assistance program.

“Because of that, 100 percent of all cash donations (to the center) go to the assistance program,” added Boehm.

She explained the center will average between 20-40 percent of thrift store sales benefiting the assistance program.

In addition to more retail floor space, the store will have a dedicated section to furniture and household items, with room for an increased inventory. The center has always offered reading material, and a new “book nook” was carved into a corner of the sales floor.

The new location has a conference training center room too. Donations may be dropped off at the Dennison Place alley entrance directly behind Ragan’s store.

Customers may park in the Murrell Street entrance parking lot. Additional public parking is available within the center’s immediate vicinity.

The thrift store will be open Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; the assistance office Monday-Thursday 9 a.m.-3 p.m. (closed noon-1 p.m. for lunch) and Fridays 9 a.m.-noon.

A grand opening celebration commemorating the center’s relocation to the Tom Waychoff building is scheduled Sunday, April 1 from 2-5 p.m. The center’s Myatt Street location is now closed, and for sale.

The center’s 4th annual “Generosity Gives Hope” banquet is scheduled Saturday, March 10 from 6-8 p.m. at Dickson First Assembly’s Family Life Center (3525 U.S. Highway 70 W., Dickson).

A silent auction with light refreshments will take place from 5-5:50 p.m. County Mayor Bob Rial will serve as guest speaker. Sisters restaurant will provide the meal, and “Scrap Iron Bunch” with David Baggett and friends the entertainment.

Seven tables with diners remain to be filled for the banquet. You can RSVP by calling the Help Center at (615) 441-0076, or Help Center board of directors President J. Dwight Ragsdale at (615) 797-3552.

The center continues to collect donations for its 3-year capital campaign to pay off the purchase of the Tom Waychoff building. For more information, contact the Help Center.