Coronavirus outbreak puts temporary pause on transformation of old Union Gospel Mission building into women’s ministry

PASCO, Wash. — Employment and empowerment.

That’s what new Pasco ministry Grace Kitchen plans to offer women who are struggling to get back on their feet.

“We want to help women who are poor, marginalized, homeless, without jobs and without hope,” said Amanda Lorraine, founder of Grace Kitchen. “They can leave our program making sustainable money and no longer relying on the government and destructive relationships.”

Lorraine’s inspiration for the faith-based ministry came from her time as a chaplain working for the Tri-City Union Gospel Mission women and children’s shelter next door. She worked with women who had experienced trauma or had felonies on their record.

“What I realized is they really need someone to come alongside them, speak hope into their life, be a friend to them and they also need jobs,” she said. “They need to be able to be employed so they can make sustainable wages for their families.”

However, plans for their new facility have screeched to a halt. The coronavirus outbreak started to spike just weeks after they purchased the old UGM men’s shelter building on 2nd Ave. and began a complete remodel.

“We were making a lot of headway; we had businesses stepping up and churches willing to adopt rooms in the facility, and Lowe’s stepped up and provided flooring and paint,” said Lorraine. “All of that has stopped right now.”

The building is located 50 feet from the women’s shelter, and they plan to start out hiring women from next door and teaching them how to produce dried food products. Eventually, they will operate a restaurant out of the building.

Upstairs rooms will serve a variety of purposes, including office space, places for women to study or work on job applications and space for counseling sessions. A large room, previously the UGM chapel, will be a multi-purpose area and may even be used as a playroom for the children at the shelter next door.

“We want to restore this building as much as we can back to its original beauty in the heart of Downtown Pasco,” said Lorraine.

They have a long way to go. The building is over a century old, and still features much of its original infrastructure, like its heating system.

As a nonprofit, Lorraine must rely heavily on churches, businesses and community members to step up and provide donations so that transformation can take place. In spite of the challenges and recent setback, she hasn’t lost her vision or her passion for these women.

“When the crisis ends, we plan to hire our first three women,” she said. “Even if it hasn’t been completely remodeled, we’ll get our kitchen up and running.”

If you’d like to learn more or get involved, you can contact Grace Kitchen at (509) 413-3150 or amanda@gracekitchentricities.com. You can donate online here or mail checks to 8524 W. Gage Blvd., Suite A #181, Kennewick.

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