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Agape Ministries could soon have a new home

FUTURE HOME of Agape Ministries, the former Pine Hill Plaza at 1895 Route 16, across from the Pizza Barn in West Ossipee. The Straughans have purchased the property, damaged by fire, and are looking for help to repair it. (Mellisa Ferland photo) (click for larger version)
April 07, 2011
OSSIPEE — Six months after his family's home was destroyed by fire, Kevin Straughan is optimistic about a new opportunity and a very visible fire ravaged building will likely be getting a facelift and a new life in the process.

Straughan let the word out at the selectmen's meeting Monday night and in a phone interview said he is excited about the possibility of having all the Agape Ministries functions under one roof.

Kevin and his wife Janna are the founders of the non-profit Agape Ministries, probably best known as the owner/operators of the area's largest food pantry. They first operated the food pantry out of their home on Route 16B in Center Ossipee. The pantry then moved to Ossipee Valley Bible Church in West Ossipee. They also operate a thrift shop out of a mobile home in the church parking lot with proceeds going to support the pantry.

Just after 6 a.m. on Oct. 14, 2010, the Straughans were alerted by a passerby that their barn was on fire. The quick moving fire destroyed the barn, killed dozens of animals and made their adjacent home uninhabitable.

With their faith, the support of the community and adequate insurance, the Straughans were able to purchase the house next door, raise a barn for the remaining animals and start to rebuild their cheese making business. The road back after such a devastating loss of the familiar has not been all easy, of course, but Straughan says he's never "been one to lie around and wallow in self pity. Life is hard with enough things that are tenuous."

The Straughans have purchased the former Pine Hill Plaza at 1895 Route 16, across from the Pizza Barn in West Ossipee. That building was ravaged by fire a couple of years ago that heavily damaged about half of the building. Straughan said the plan is to bring the food pantry, thrift store and a resource center all under one roof. It offers a large parking lot with a garage for storage as well. Straughan says a structural engineer will be called in to assess the building as some trusses on the heavily damaged side are burned right through and the roof has heavy damage. But, said Kevin, if the building is still standing after winter of heavy snow load, it appears to be a strong building. There will be a lot of cleanup to do, dumpsters will be needed and materials to rebuild will be sought. The initial plan is to make the building safe and secure and begin using the southern half of the building first where there is little damage.

Anyone interested in providing manual labor or donating supplies can reach Straughan at 539-4456.

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