(Lawrence, Kan.) – – Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas is hosting a ribbon cutting and open house on Thursday, February 8th, from 4:00 – 5:00 pm, in celebration of its newly relocated Lawrence Emergency Assistance Center (EAC). The office, which was previously located at 1247 Kentucky Street, has moved just east of Iowa to 1525 West 6th Street.

The new office has tripled in usable space, meeting the requirements of diverse disability groups and allowing for ease of access to services. It also accommodates the development and expansion of programing to better meet the growing needs of the Lawrence community.

One of the most exciting new features is the agency’s food pantry. The food pantry has been arranged as a small grocery store, complete with refrigeration, produce, and bread racks with a section for household and hygiene products. It boasts a separate entry and exit point that allows consumers to easily shop and make selections. Volunteers assist shoppers in the pantry by responding to questions, providing meal ideas and exchanging recipes. “We value the dignity of those we serve, offering a self-shopping food pantry so they may select items appropriate for their families’ dietary and cultural needs,” explains Dustin Hardison, Director of Stabilization and Housing.

In addition to the more spacious pantry, the Lawrence EAC now offers a clothing closet featuring gently used items for men, women and children. There’s also computer access to work on resumes and job searches, as well as complete on-line classes. Plus, the new office offers room to host nutrition and financial education classes, with hopes to expand through partnerships with other agencies in the community. “We have already formed a strong collaborative relationship with Just Food, who provides cooking classes monthly using our classroom,” says Namasté Manney, manager of the Lawrence EAC office.

Another benefit of the larger space is the increase in on-site volunteer opportunities, from helping sort and stock the food pantry to assisting in the office. “We are fortunate that Lawrence is a generous community; recently we have partnered with Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity, whose members now serve weekly in the pantry, and we continue to appreciate our long standing partnership with St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church. We are always looking for new and innovative partnerships, expansion of volunteers support, and opportunities to serve within our community,” adds Manney.

Founded in 1956, Catholic Charities is a non-profit organization that serves people of all faiths providing emergency assistance, family strengthening and healthcare services. Catholic Charities’ first Lawrence EAC was housed in the parish offices of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in 2010. Five years later, the parish purchased a Victorian home across the street for the EAC.

Today, the Lawrence office is one of seven Emergency Assistance Centers located throughout a 21-county service area. It is open from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. To learn more about Lawrence’s programs and services, call 785.856.2694 or visit: catholiccharitiesks.org