GRAPEVINE, Texas - A nonprofit organization in Tarrant County is trying to figure out how it’s going to recover after a devastating fire.
The fire at GRACE Grapevine started Wednesday night after a group used the kitchen area for a diabetes cooking class. The community clinic and food pantry has been around for more than 30 years and is known for helping the needy in Grapevine.
“It’s pretty devastating. Although, I will say we are incredibly blessed and prayers need to go up for gratitude that nobody was in the building and nobody was injured. The firefighters are fine, which is fine,” said executive director Shonda Schaefer.
The clinic portion of the building suffered a large amount of smoke and fire damage. Schaefer said people two blocks away smelled the smoke about 10 p.m. Wednesday and called the fire department. Once firefighters found where the smoke was coming from they managed to quickly put out the flames, but a lot of damage was already done.
“We obviously are just now assessing what we’re going to be able to reuse but it looks like it’s pretty much a total loss,” Schaefer said.
Smoke also filled the pantry area. Schaefer said it’s not yet clear if all the food stored there is still good. Medical supplies are also being evaluated.
“I'm not sure what will be salvageable,” volunteer Jeanne Ellermeyer. “Everything we used for the clinic today was covered in soot and grime. We wiped everything down, cotton balls, blood pressure cup, thermometers. We were able to use some of the supplies for clinic.”
Thursday morning brought clients arriving and their shock at the damage.
“I wouldn't be getting any medical help, they're the only ones that are giving me the help I need,” said client Gayla Lewis.
GRACE's operations on Thursday temporarily operated out of First Baptist Church in Grapevine.
Stacy Pacholick, the program director, said they are working to find temporary locations to operate the clinic and food pantry until the facility can be rebuilt. There is a lot of work ahead for the crisis relief agency, now facing a crisis of its own.
“We have about 800 people who call the clinic their medical home. They don't have insurance or ability to self-pay. This is their medical home,” Pacholick said.