Three Gainesville causes have more cash in the bank thanks to donations from Wells Fargo, which is celebrating the opening of its new location on Jesse Jewell Parkway.
As part of its opening of the New Holland Market branch, part of continuing development around the Kroger Marketplace on Jesse Jewell, Wells Fargo cut $60,000 in checks for My Sister’s Place, Our Neighbor and for a green space project managed by the city of Gainesville and the University of Georgia.
Wells Fargo closed its former Gainesville Main branch on May 19 and opened the new branch on May 22. A ribbon cutting was held on Thursday.
The former Gainesville Main building also housed Wells Fargo’s regional mortgage offices, which have been moved to Duluth, and business banking offices, now on Jesse Jewell near the Frances Meadows Aquatic Center.
The old branch was at 340 Jesse Jewell Parkway closer to downtown Gainesville. The building wasn’t owned by Wells Fargo, according to Laurel Briglevich, senior community development officer for the bank.
My Sister’s Place, a shelter on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard for homeless women and children in Gainesville, is using its $5,000 donation from Wells Fargo for its thrift store, which has a grand opening on Wednesday.
The store, named My Sister’s Resale Boutique at 130 John Morrow Parkway, will both raise money for the shelter and offer its clients a chance to get some on-the-job training.
“Our goal is to help our ladies overcome the obstacles that led to their homelessness in general,” said Brandee Thomas, executive director of the nonprofit.
The workforce development program also helps pay for the costs of the job search for shelter clients, including professional clothing and transportation.
My Sister’s Place operates on an annual budget of $156,000 with four paid staff and other volunteers.
“This is a good piece of that, so we’re very excited,” Thomas said of the donation.
Our Neighbor, a nonprofit operator of homes for disabled adults, also received $5,000 from Wells Fargo. Along with the home, Our Neighbor operates a nonprofit bookstore in the Main Street Market in downtown Gainesville.
The organization owns three homes with 12 total residents, according to Mary Margaret Calvert, its director. Residents pay rent that helps cover the costs of the mortgages, insurance, utilities and other costs of the program.
“I’ve got about half that can afford to pay it and about half that are on Social Security,” Calvert said. “The $5,000 pays for all of my residents for one month or it pays for one resident for year. … It’s huge to us.”
She added she was more likely to use it to cover the costs of one resident for a year “that would be homeless, really literally, if they couldn’t stay in our program.”
Most clients of the nonprofit live in the homes for five to six years. They must have some physical or intellectual disability, but retain some level of independence, Calvert said, in order to qualify for a residency.
The largest donation — $50,000 — went to the city of Gainesville and UGA for crosswalk and road improvements along the “moat” — the ring of E.E. Butler Parkway, Jesse Jewell Parkway, Academy Street and West Academy Street around the Gainesville core.
“We recognized the fact that there’s a lot of great things about our downtown, but it’s virtually impossible for a pedestrian from the hospital or Brenau or other places to actually access it because you’re crossing these major roadways,” said Jessica Tullar, special projects manager of community development for the city of Gainesville.
Led by a steering committee, the city drafted a plan to improve crosswalks, slow traffic and improve medians surrounding downtown, according to Tullar. UGA helped write the grant, which was funded by Wells Fargo and awarded through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
The grant will pay for the planning and design of landscaped medians along portions of the “moat.”