VERO BEACH - United Against Poverty Indian River County was established in 2003 to help those living in poverty attain economic self-sufficiency. On Jan. 25, UP moved its programs and services to a new campus, across U.S. 1 from the old campus.
The grocery and most other programs were operating fully at the new location as of Jan. 27.
The new, 46,000 square foot UP Center is located at 1400 27th St., Vero Beach, just east of the Indian River County Administration Center. UP raised $2 million to purchase the building.
Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital sent a team of volunteers to help the relocation. They assisted with labeling equipment, furniture, and store shelving.
The volunteers helped pack UP’s food pantry at the old location. They stocked shelves, organized food and household products, and assembled furniture that was donated for sale in UP’s thrift shop.
The new site, across the street from the organization’s former headquarters, was a vacant citrus warehouse.
"We've worked hard to create a welcoming environment before you even step through the front door," said UP Development Director Franklin Snelson. "UP sees over 650 people a day at our current location, and we want them to feel comfortable and safe here."
UP hopes to use the new space to expand their impact, with a goal of serving over 1,000 families per day.
"We are making a commitment to this community with the opening of this new, larger facility to help more of those members of our community that need a hand up in a big way," said UP Executive Director Annabel Robertson.
United Against Poverty was founded by Austin and Ginny Hunt as a small member share grocery in the south county. In 2009, they opened a second grocery. Soon after, UP opened additional locations in Fort Pierce and Orlando.
UP Indian River County says it is the busiest single-site social service agency in the state. Programs are available to anyone living below 200% of the federal poverty level. The member share grocery program saves users an estimated $4.8 million per year. The organization encourages clients to shift those savings to basic necessities like child care, housing, and utilities.
The new UP Center will house an 18,000 square foot member share grocery, crisis stabilization services, education and training programs, a small business development program, and medical services.
It will also provide office space for community partners including the Veterans Council, Saint Helen's Ministry for the Poor, VNA community education, Department of Children and Families Access Florida, AARP Foundation, and Treasure Coast Community Health Clinic.
These partner agencies will also have access to a conference room and meeting space.
"Our vision was to create a center for our community where services and partners come together in one building to serve those in need," said Ms. Robertson. "By combining our resources and strengths, we can now better serve our community by providing a continuum of services beyond the scope of each single agency."
"The center will offer people direct access to fresh, nutritious food, employment support, crisis care, medical services, mental health treatment, veteran's programs, senior services, housing support, and transportation solutions," Ms. Robertson said. “It will also offer innovative training services with an entrepreneurial center holding business education and computer classes, and health and wellness initiatives such as yoga, fitness, meditation, and holistic support.”
UP Indian River North is located at 1400 27th St., Vero Beach. Reach them by phone at (772) 564-9365. Hours of operation are Mon.-Sat., 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
UP still operates an additional Indian River County location at 1050 Old Dixie Highway SW, Vero Beach. Call them at (772) 770-4142. Hours of operation are Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.