As Paul Dickover stood at the pulpit of Trinity Episcopal Church on Sunday and told the hundreds in attendance of the work involved in the Assistance Center of Towson Churches renovation this summer, he told of a project that grew to nearly twice its original scale.
But for Dickover, the contractor, and the leaders of the ACTC, the downtown Towson food pantry, which serves those in need in central Baltimore County, they knew a little bit of faith would take their project a long way.
"If you tried to think too far ahead, the whole idea would have been daunting," Cathy Burgess, executive director of the ACTC, said. "At each phase, we were provided with exactly what we needed."
The charity group, which was founded in 1985 and is now supported by 48 churches in 21 ZIP codes from Towson to the Pennsylvania line, celebrated the rededication of its renovated building Sunday with a service at Trinity Episcopal Church.
At the event, volunteers and board members celebrated the work put into their building and emboldened each other in their mission to help Towson's growing population of those in need.
The ACTC set out in May to put on a 300-square-foot addition to the ACTC building behind Calvary Baptist Church at 120 Pennsylvania Ave.
Dickover, a Glen Arm contractor, shepherded a group of 15 core volunteers and countless others, who donated time and services. The addition was meant to improve client service by adding a handicap accessible restroom, a larger waiting area and a small alcove for volunteers to meet with patients.
The rest of the building was set to be renovated as well, and that's where Dickover and his crew ran into trouble. The original building, they found, was badly damaged by water and termites. They ultimately had to tear that portion down and rebuild it as well.
Dickover, who has owned PTD Custom Builders for 30 years, said it was yet another surprise in a project that challenged everything he'd known in his business. He had initially set out hoping for help from the youth group that he takes on mission trips to help, but instead worked with ACTC volunteers whom he said were invaluable as work went on.
"It was an incredible experience," he said.
Burgess and Dickover said much of the labor was donated, with the total cost of both donated services and materials bringing the project to $146,000. Dickover said much of the electrical work and painting was donated, and a set of late financial donations ensured the new scope of the project could be fulfilled.
"We just took every day and tried not to overthink it," Burgess said. "Every time a need came up, someone was there to meet it."
The renovated center opened on Dec. 16, and the extra space provided by the construction has stunned both volunteers and clients, Burgess said. She said clients are thrilled that such work went into helping them because prior, the building was small and the floorboards were caving in.
Additional food storage space has allowed the operation to get better organized, with the 8-foot shelves in the back room stocked full of supplies and an easy-to-read chart indicating which items go in each meal bag.
By creating such a nice space, Burgess said volunteers both old and new are better rewarded for dedicating their time. Older volunteers who are familiar with the old building are energized by the expanded space.
"It makes them excited to help out," she said.