Updated to include the address of the new location in Sanger.

SANGER — Dozens of people including staff members, volunteers and community members gathered Wednesday afternoon to cut the ribbon on First Refuge Ministries’ newest center in Sanger.

The center, which opened last week at 713 S. 5th St., will provide free medical services, counseling services and a food pantry to those in need.

“This will do so much good for people who desperately need it,” First Refuge Ministries executive director Paul Juarez said. “Many people are one paycheck away from becoming homeless. They need assistance to prevent that from happening, and that’s what we hope to do here in Sanger.”

The center is the second of its kind, with the first being located at 1701 Broadway St. in Denton.

The Sanger location at has been in the works for more than a year when Juarez said he came into contact with Grant Bowles, senior pastor of the First Baptist Church in Sanger.

“I was on a tour of First Refuge’s building in Denton and I remember immediately thinking, ‘We need this in Sanger,’” Bowles said. “It just clicked.”

The house First Refuge Ministries will serve out of was provided by the Sanger church and had previously been unoccupied.

“It was just sitting there empty,” Bowles said. “We had been trying to figure out what to do with the place but nothing fit. I saw what First Refuge was doing and it just made sense. Everything fell into place.”

After the ribbon cutting, attendees toured the facility that features two counseling rooms, two medical examination rooms and a food pantry that is set up like a grocery store.

“There are so many people around here who don’t get proper medical and dental services,” said Debbie Reaves, a Sanger Chamber of Commerce administrator. “To have a place that provides that capability for us is huge for the community.”

Although the center opened just last week, community members like Reaves are already praising its impact.

“I personally have a granddaughter that’s going to counseling in the Denton office,” Reaves said. “To know that she is now going to get that service here is just phenomenal.”

JESSE BRACKEEN can be reached via Twitter at @BrackeenJesse.

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