A buzz of excitement hummed as a group of three-dozen locals waited on the cement patio linking the past, present and future of social services in Marana.
The crowd gathered to witness the opening of two new slate grey portable office buildings, donated by Cottonwood Properties in May.
The 3,000-square-foot expansion to what is now called the Community Food Bacnk of Southern Arizona - Marana Resource Center (formerly known as the Community Food Bank in Marana) was the result of years of work by members of the community.
The Oct. 31 ceremony was the coronation of a project launched two years ago when the food bank received an $80,000 Community Development Block Grant from Pima County, which has been given out to community facilities and infrastructure projects in low-income and rural areas since 1978.
The food bank collected more than $100,000 in private donations to finish the project, Executive Director Linda Hampton said.
The renovated facility will house office space for Interfaith Community Services, Pima Council on Aging, Department of Economic Security, Pima County Legal Aid and more.
Hampton believes the expanded facility will provide tangible benefits to residents in Marana, Picture Rocks and surrounding areas immediately.
“It fundamentally changes the way that social services are delivered in the Northwest Tucson and Marana area,” Hampton said. “Some of the services that will be available here have not been available at all, so it really is a wonderful opportunity for people to get the help that they need in their own community.”
Marana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ed Stolmaker discussed the benefits the expanded center would have on the region.
“It means a lot, we do have people stop by and ask questions: ‘Where can we donate food?’ ‘Is there a food bank in Marana?’” Stolmaker said. “So we can send them here. We’ll send people, not only for food, but for all the resources that they have available here as well.”
Hampton believes the expanded resource center will be a hot commodity for the town, which has grown 25.8 percent—from 34,566 in 2010 to 43,474 today—according to the Census Bureau.
“What I’m going to say about this is that this is a community resource center,” Hampton said. “And the word community is in the title—not just because it serves the community — but because it was created by the community.”