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BREAKING GROUND: The Kitchen Inc. is building a new homeless shelter and administrative offices dubbed The O’Reilly Family Campus.SBJ photo by MATTHEW HENDERSON
BREAKING GROUND: The Kitchen Inc. is building a new homeless shelter and administrative offices dubbed The O’Reilly Family Campus.

SBJ photo by MATTHEW HENDERSON

In transition, The Kitchen breaks ground on $4M campus

Posted online
A retired State Farm Insurance claims adjuster is in a unique role for The Kitchen Inc.

As Kitchen board president, Jim Newman took on the bulk of duties left by the sudden exit of CEO Rorie Orgeron on May 24.

The uncharacteristic personnel shift comes at a critical time for the nonprofit. A couple of weeks after Orgeron left, Kitchen officials broke ground on a new $4 million campus on North Glenstone Avenue.

The 75-year-old Newman now spends each day at the nonprofit’s current office managing the operation with a roughly $3 million operating budget.

“Managing just means being there, letting people do their jobs and answering things on behalf of the board,” he said at the June 8 groundbreaking ceremony.

Newman said he had no advanced notice about filling the role, but he volunteered because most of the other board members have active careers.

“I’ve been on the board long enough to know what’s involved in the day-to-day operation,” he said.

Newman said he plans to stay on until a new CEO is hired, and he does not want to be considered for the job. The search to replace Orgeron, a nine-year veteran in the post, should be underway by fall, said Community Development Manager Roz Palmer.

In the wake of Orgeron’s departure, Palmer and Kitchen board members Newman and Vice President Simeon Shelton declined to provide reasons. Springfield Business Journal’s attempts to reach Orgeron have been unsuccessful.

Newman said the application process should be announced this month.

Orgeron joined The Kitchen in 2005 as its chief operations officer and became director of development in 2007. He was named CEO in 2008.

Most recently, Orgeron led the nonprofit’s sale of its seven-building, 106,000-square-foot campus on Commercial Street to Historic Commercial Developments LLC, and was instrumental in shuttering the Missouri Hotel homeless shelter as The Kitchen moved to a housing-first model.

Under his watch, The Kitchen raised the bulk of funds for the new campus project.

The groundbreaking ceremony just north of the Glenstone Avenue and Chestnut Expressway intersection included an announcement of the campus’ official name: The O’Reilly Family Campus. The L-shaped property wraps around Panda Express and Auto By Rent.

Scheduled for completion next summer, administration offices – with space for 26 case managers, the organization’s executive, as well as human resources, accounting and development staff – will face Glenstone, and a new 14-apartment temporary-housing shelter will front Chestnut by next spring.

At 12,800 square feet total, Base Construction is general contractor for the campus, and Ireland Architects Inc. handled design work.

Newman said the property, which was mostly undeveloped aside from a long-closed Wendy’s that once faced Glenstone, was purchased at an undisclosed but highly discounted rate from former board member Sam Hamra.

Fundraising efforts are ongoing, but Palmer said the nonprofit has raised 91 percent of the project’s budget.

Web Producer Geoff Pickle contributed.



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