Friday, March 26, a few Mesa West Members were able to go to the 7th Street Food Pantry to see the results of a District Grant project that went far beyond what what originally planned.  At that small gathering members met Matt and Ginger McLamb, who accepted the challenge to open the Pantry when their business landlord for their nearby businesses offered the building to them rent-free if they would expand what he knew they were already doing.  They were handing out unsold sandwiches which were donated to them by a nearby restaurant at the end of the to some of the hungry in the area.
To accept the challenge they needed everything to fall into place with little or no effort on their part.  A donor out of the clear offered $10,000 to get them started.  The McLambs couldn't accept the donation without being organized as a non-profit.  The donor found an attorney who would assist with that process at no charge.  Greg Okonowski from Mesa West was invited to be a board member at the suggestion of someone in his insurance group.  
The McLamb's discovered sources of food that would be donated by grocers just before it had to be removed from stock, so they did not have the expense of purchasing their food inventory.  
When Greg asked them how they were paying for utilities and other expenses, they confessed they had been paying for that out of pocket.  Greg went to work soliciting funds from businesses who could charge off the expense as a charitable donation and have a banner on the building and name tags on the volunteers working in the pantry advertising their business.
The grant was obtained to replace the floor in half of the building located at 4223 S 7th Street in Phoenix.  Don LaBarge took charge of assessing what needed to be done and doing the logistical planning for the service project.  It became clear to Don that all the flooring in the facility needed to be replaced and that before the flooring went in, the building interior would need to be repainted from top to bottom.
Members at the Friday gathering were introduced to Lorenzo Velazco.  His firm, Velasco Enterprises did the necessary floor repairs and completed the installation of the new flooring.
Before the work began, everything was moved out of the building into a mobile storage unit.  The coast was clear for the work to begin Friday, March 19.  
The initial job was to remove the existing tile from the floor in both sides of the building.  After the flooring was removed, it was apparent that repairs to the concrete floor would need to be made before the new flooring was installed.  It took a crew of some of our hardier members to make the removal process happen.  
Saturday and Sunday crews from Mesa West, which included several new and prospective members went to the building to paint the interior walls, shelving and ceilings in all the rooms in the facility.  Go to the Mesa West Rotary Facebook Page: to see photos taken during the tile removal and painting operations, as well as some before and after photos.
CLICK HERE to visit the 7th Street Food Pantry website.  One thing you will find there is that Mesa West Rotarians have had  a
passion for what happens in that little building for a long time.  One photo is of the Arizona Group in which you will see Greg Okonowski, and in the back row of the other photo, you will see our own Chris Krueger in the back row of a group from Mutual of Omaha who provided some support.
Big thanks to Don LaBarge for coordinating this effort to Lorenzo for making his services available at a very affordable price.  All the effort will enable the McLambs and their many volunteers to continue to serve the needs of people living in an area of our metropolitan area which is very much in need.  They will be able to do their work in a much safer environment.  What happens in this small building that that was formerly a liquor store is transformative.
Thanks to all
the Mesa West Rotarians
and friends
who helped make
this building upgrade