New room to grow: Open Doors adds 3,000 square feet to building in northern Westfield


Open Doors of Washington Township has served the Westfield Washington Township community for 32 years. Despite moving from an old fire station on Union Street into a 5,000-square-foot building near Monon Trail Elementary School in 2017, Open Doors isn’t finished growing.

The food and clothing assistance organization will unveil a 3,000-square-foot expansion to its current building in January.

“The whole focus is moving our projects into the new space,” Open Doors Vice President of Special Projects Carrie Larrison said.

Open Doors recently completed its new initiative, the Christmas project, which provides food and a gift for every child in need who is of high school age or younger. Parents receive a gift card to purchase pajamas or clothes for their kids. Open Doors volunteers pack the boxes near the food storage areas. When the expanded space opens, there will be more room to work on the projects.

Open Doors Vice President of Special Projects Carrie Larrison packs a box of food for the Christmas project. (Photos by Anna Skinner)

Other special initiatives include a Thanksgiving project, a back-to-school project and a cleaning basket project in the spring.

“Thanksgiving is all food. We give (families in need) pretty much all the traditional food of Thanksgiving — turkey, pumpkin pie, cool whip and canned items,” Larrison said. “Back-to-school they get an actual backpack they choose themselves and the appropriate school supplies based on age, and a Westfield Rocks T-shirt and a gift card for shoes.

“Cleaning baskets is a tote full of cleaning products.”

Open Doors serves 135 clients a month with donated food and clothing. The number doesn’t include the special projects. Besides Open Doors clients, the special projects also also assist people in need in Washington Township found through the Good Samaritan Network of Hamilton County, an organization that serves as a liason with other nonprofits.

Open Doors Treasurer Jerry Rosenberger said the new space also will serve as a sorting area for clothing.

“The showroom will still stay up front for clients to see, but the sorting will take place (in the new space),” Rosenberger said. “We will move racks ready to be viewed from the back up front. It’s a big deal. We are getting so much clothing in. People assume we are just a food pantry still, but more and more people are also bringing clothing donations here. That’s grown considerably in terms of the amount we need to sort (prior to donating).”

Open Doors clients can shop in the pantry’s front room, which is full of clothing, children’s books and food items, once a week. They are allowed to shop for the bulk of the pantry’s meat, fresh produce, canned items and other food products once a month.

Many clients are referred to Open Doors through word of mouth.

“The only criteria is they have to live in Washington Township and there’s an income restriction,” Rosenberger said.

Rosenberger said income restrictions are based on the poverty level set by the federal government.

“If the federal government says a family of four can get by on $40,000, we allow them to earn more money ($80,000) and still qualify,” Rosenberger said. “We have increased the amount of money they can make and still be served here. The federal number is quite small when you stop and think about how that might even work.”

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Open Doors will expand into its new 3,000-square-foot space in January.

A helping hand

Open Doors Treasurer Jerry Rosenberger said many contractors donated time or materials in the construction of the new addition to the Open Doors building in northern Westfield.

“A lot of contractors working with us are giving a great deal of their services,” Rosenberger said.

Construction started in July and is expected to finish by the end of next month.

“Contractors are volunteering a lot of time,” Rosenberger said.

Contributing contractors include: Custom Concrete; Farm Building, Inc.; Huston Electric; Sloderbeck Heating & Cooling; Weesner Contracting, Inc.; Dustin Hicks Contracting, Sundown Gardens; and Practical Property Group.

Open Doors did not conduct a capital campaign for the expansion.

“We were able to over the last 32 years put money away and have the funds to build this ourselves with a lot of help with people either donating their services or product,” Rosenberger said. “That keeps the cost of it down. We had sufficient funds in our investment fund to cover the rest.”

Open Doors is an all-volunteer organization.


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