My Brother's Keeper readying expanded Dartmouth facility

DARTMOUTH -- As My Brother's Keeper plans to open its new 23,200 square foot Dartmouth facility by the end of the summer, leaders of the Christian non-profit look forward to bringing assistance and hope to new populations.

"We have heard from the people we serve and the people who serve with us that the work of My Brother's Keeper has really enriched their lives, both providing comfort and the love and hope of Christ to people," said president Erich Miller during a July 25 telephone interview with The Pilot that also included co-founder Jim Orcutt and Josh Smith, director of the new Dartmouth facility.

"If we did not try to bring it to another place, to another community... it would be like putting a basket on a lamp," Miller continued.

Founded in 1988 by husband and wife Jim and Terry Orcutt, My Brother's Keeper is a charitable Christian organization dedicated to providing furniture and food to families in need. The organization began out of the basement of Jim and Terry Orcutt's home, where, on a tight budget, the couple began collecting clothes and linens for families in need. It relies on donations to provide families with furniture and food.

Today, the organization has around 4,000 volunteers and about 12 dedicated staff, with a location in Easton next to Stonehill College and a location in Dartmouth. It has been operating its current Dartmouth facility, a rented 9,800 square foot building, for about four years, but is expecting to complete construction on a new 23,200 square foot facility down the street by the end of August.

The new facility, which rests on a 22 acre lot, "is going to provide us with an opportunity to serve many, many more people in that area," said Jim Orcutt.

Once the facility is completed, the organization is estimating the number of children and adults served in the South Coast area to grow from 2,500 to 10,000 a year over three years. It's also estimating a 225 percent increase in total deliveries will occur within two years, and a 340 percent increase in five years.

"This new facility certainly will strengthen the work being done in the communities of Fall River, New Bedford, and surrounding towns, but it's also going to strengthen the work happening out of our Easton facilities for communities like Brockton and Dorchester, communities that we receive so many requests," said Miller, noting that while the facilities are both located in the Diocese of Fall River, a large number of deliveries are made to families residing in the Archdiocese of Boston.

Since its inception, My Brother's Keeper has made around 130,000 deliveries to families, not only bringing them much needed furniture and food, but, as Orcutt put it, also the "hope and love of Jesus Christ."

That's really the mission behind My Brother's Keeper, he said, "To bring people the love and hope of Christ and lift them up."

On top of receiving the donated furniture and food from My Brother's Keeper, families are also given a crucifix. Orcutt believes that as the new facility becomes operational, "there will be thousands more crucifixes hanging on the walls of apartments in Fall River."

As the facility only takes up around four to five acres, yet rests on a 22 acre lot, there is currently large amount of open woodland space surrounding the building. Miller said that space will be partially filled with a "rosary walk."

The walk, which will be open to the public, "will start with a life-size depiction of the crucifixion right next to the building, then will wind through the rest of the property" with stations representing the rosary, he said.

"We think inviting people in to enjoy the property for prayer is really a nice complement to our mission," he said.

A Mass of dedication will be held at the site after construction likely completes before the end of August.

"It's a great privilege" to serve those in need, said Orcutt.

"When God picks you to send, it's the greatest privilege you'll have in your life, that God sends you in His place," he said.