In just a couple months, the building to the left will be painted a welcoming shade of blue, and a TROSA Grocery sign hanging out front will announce not just the bright interior filled with fresh food and newly donated equipment, but the completion of one piece of a project aimed at revitalizing an East Durham neighborhood that has struggled with poverty, crime and drugs.
The development is spearheaded by Durham resident Joseph Bushfan and former City Councilman Dan Hill III, and it will include a sandwich shop and an Internet cafe. Kevin McDonald, founder and CEO of the innovative substance abuse recovery program TROSA, said his part in the venture wouldn’t have been possible without community support, including a Community Care Grant from Duke’s Office of Durham and Regional Affairs.
“To jump into the grocery business when you’ve never been in the grocery business before – you start finding out how much there is to know,” McDonald laughed. “TROSA has experience developing new businesses, but this one has been a lot, a lot of work.”
When the store opens in February, its shelves will be lined with food purchased with the Community Care Grant, funded through Duke’s Doing Good in the Neighborhood employee-giving campaign.
Wendy Noel, the TROSA project manager who got the grocery up and running, said the food purchased will be fresh and healthy, just as East Durham residents requested in a community survey distributed by TROSA. That kind of community input has driven the creation of the grocery store, and Noel said she hopes it pays off in the form of community support for the new store and for a new local business scene in this once-vibrant neighborhood.
“What’s great about the grocery store is that it’s so mission-driven,” Noel said. “TROSA is all about empowering change, and empowering people to make change in their own lives and in their communities.”