Faces, new and old, welcomed at Grand Central Station facility opening

Jerrie Whiteley
Herald Democrat

Charlene Smith comes to Grand Central Station Dining Car in Sherman a couple of times a week. She used to volunteer for the Market Depot.

"I started volunteering when it was the greenhouse," said the 65-year old woman.

A Sherman native who graduated from Bells in 1973, Smith worked as a waitress and a cook for 17 years.

Smith raised two children.

Like many people who go to the soup kitchen, she sees it as a social activity as well as a place to supplement food.

"It's really a great service and helps a lot of people," she said.

Smith was among a number of people at the Dining Car Tuesday to celebrate the grand opening of the new facility at 619 E. Houston in Sherman.

The facility which brought under one roof the soup kitchen, food pantry, Children's Express and Tools for Schools opened its doors back in February after more than four years of planning and fundraising. Its purpose is much more than providing food to the hungry.

Also receiving services at the new facility Tuesday was Stephanie Twitchell. 

Twitchell had to quit her job because of COVID-19 and that caused her to losing her housing.

"The lady that I was living with didn't tell me that she was behind on her taxes. They came and took the house, kicked us out and bull dozed it two days later."

While Twitchell would like to find a job, someone stole her identification and those kinds of documents are hard to replace especially for those who are from out of state.

"I like the new building," she said of the new GCS facility. "It's awesome. It has more washers and more showers," she said.

One of the showers that have been built to serve the area's homeless population at Grand Central Station's new location in Sherman.

As a person who is currently experiencing homelessness, she said she really appreciates the friendliness of the staff and their willingness to help where they can.

"Like in January when it got really cold, they got everybody a hotel room to stay in," she said. "They are kind and understanding. If you don't have a tent or something happens to your tent like you get flooded, people donate them and they give you a tent."

The Market Depot, food pantry, she said is more available now than it was before, and she had really enjoyed watching most of the changes that occurred when the soup kitchen moved across the street and combined with the other services that were previously offered under the same umbrella non-profit but in various locations.

Stores of food await unpacking at Grand Central Station's new location Saturday as the soup kitchen's moving process began with a volunteer work day.

"It's available Monday, Wednesday and Friday and when it was the Green House, they could only do it once every two months. But now, that it's the Market Depot they can come for food every two weeks," she said.

Twitchell also praised that the laundry space and equipment at the new facility is much improved over what they had before allowing individuals and families who lack the funds or means to use a local laundry mat a way to enjoy the dignity of clean clothes.

Boxes of cereal and other items wait to be unpacked at the new location for Grand Central Station and the food  Market Depot Saturday afternoon as the moving process began for the soup kitchen and food pantry.

"They are able to utilize it to do a load per family per day," she said also wanting to acknowledge the wonderful staff throughout the facility.

The mission at Grand Central Station is so far beyond serving food.

"This is a safe haven for many to get away from their current drama, a place where their spirits can rest, rejuvenate and heal, where they can find honor, dignity and respect," she said. "It's also a cool place to come to in the summer and a warm place in the winter," former Executive Director Karen Bray said last year.