By Larry Keller / Special to The Palm Beach Post
Updated Jun 24, 2019 at 11:40 AM
Six years ago, a Palm Beach nonprofit called Extraordinary Charities began publishing an annual directory of small, local organizations that address issues such as homelessness, hunger and education, in an effort to connect them with donors.
On Wednesday, the organization showed off a far more ambitious undertaking — a nonprofit center that is now home to some of those same charities. Extraordinary Charities bought the nearly 16,000-square-foot building and warehouse in unincorporated West Palm Beach for $1.8 million two years ago, gutted the main building and spent another $1.2 million on renovations.
Almost one-third of the building is consumed by a 5,000-square-foot kitchen. It has a 24-by-24-foot walk-in cooler and a 24-by-32-foot walk-in freezer. Extraordinary Charities and Meals on Wheels of the Palm Beaches, will each use half of the kitchen. Extraordinary Charities will sponsor nutritional cooking classes, which clients of the building’s tenants can attend. It also will oversee it as a training kitchen for those who aspire to a career in the restaurant industry.
Meals on Wheels is one of the center’s tenants and has been using the new kitchen for two weeks now. “Beverlee (Raymond) saved us,” said Pamela Calzadilla, the organization’s president and CEO. “We were limited to the number of meals we could serve.”
At its former facility, Meals on Wheels was preparing 220 to 250 meals a day. Its new kitchen boosts the capacity to 1,000 meals. “It will allow us to expand our outreach,” Calzadilla said.
Making all of this even more palatable is $250,000 of new commercial kitchen equipment, purchased through grants and private donations.
The nonprofit center also has offices, a multimedia room, a laundry room, a playroom and a break room.
Extraordinary Charities was founded by Beverlee Raymond and her husband, John. She envisions offering workshops for tenants on subjects such as budgeting and preparing tax documents in the multipurpose room. Some tenants are also interested in conducting their board of directors’ meetings there.
Each of the nonprofits pays rent and a fee for maintenance of common areas. “I’d really like this building to (eventually) be self-sustaining,” Raymond said.
There remains enough office space for two more charities.
“We vet them all very carefully,” Raymond said, referring not only to the tenants but all nonprofits listed in the directory.
In addition to Extraordinary Charities and Meals on Wheels, other nonprofits housed in the center on Old Okeechobee Road include:
– Digital Vibez, which visits underserved areas to provide kids avenues for a healthy lifestyle through dance and recreational activities that incorporate technology.
– Family Promise of North/Central Palm Beach County, which provides temporary shelter, transportation, meals, and case management for children and their parents who are homeless.
– Feed the Hungry Pantry, an organization that gives away food to about 25,000 Palm County residents in need every year.
– Morningday Community Solutions, which will use the center’s warehouse to store and distribute excess retailers’ merchandise to other nonprofits for deserving families that they serve.