Sisters invite community to see center before renovation begins

May 7, 2009 by

The Neighbor to Neighbor center will be housed in the former Conns TV & Appliance on East Sixth Street in Concordia once the extensive renovations are completed.

The Neighbor to Neighbor center will be housed in the former Conn's TV & Appliance on East Sixth Street in Concordia once the extensive renovations are completed.

The community will have a chance during the afternoon and evening of Thursday, May 14, to see the “before” of a new social services center planned for downtown Concordia. The “after” will come in a new months, when the building at 103 E. Sixth St. has been renovated into Neighbor to Neighbor, a project of the Sisters of St. Joseph to serve women and their young children.


The sisters are hosting a “pre-construction party” from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday to show plans for the building, which formerly housed Conn’s TV & Appliance, and to explain some of the programs they hope to offer there.

The public is invited, and refreshments will be served.

On hand will be the three women who are drivers behind the project — Sisters Pat McLennon, Jean Befort and Ramona Medina — as well as Greg Gallagher, the facilities administrator for the sisters and the man who will oversee the renovation.

The extensive clean up of the century-old building has already started, and old wood paneling has been removed. Other interior features, like room partitions and restrooms that are not handicap accessible, will be removed, essentially gutting the two-story structure to create the new center. Gallagher said the renovation will include repairing old water damage throughout the building, and then installing new plumbing and fixtures throughout, plus new sheetrock, dropped ceilings, carpet, other flooring, lighting and paint. Many of the windows will be replaced as part of the restoration, and the front entrance will be modified to be handicap accessible.

Neighbor to Neighbor, when it opens later this year or early in 2010, will provide a wide array of services for women and for women with young children and be a resource center to help them find other services they need, said Sister Pat.

Services offered will likely include nutrition and parenting classes, workshops on healthy living, personal counseling and information on what help is available through other agencies. The center will also have small facilities to meet what Sister Pat described as “basic needs” — showers, at least two washers and dryers and a kitchen.

Sister Ramona noted that services and volunteer opportunities will be added and developed as the need for them is identified.

“Our first sisters met the needs of the time,” Medina said of the Sisters of St. Joseph who came to Concordia and founded the order in 1883. “These are the needs of our time — women and their children who may just need a safe place to connect with each other.”

One resource available to meet those needs are the sisters in Concordia themselves.

About 40 retired Sisters of St. Joseph live at the Motherhouse, which is the center of the sisters’ community. “We have retired teachers, counselors, caregivers… And they are excited about the chance to reach out to women in Concordia,” said Sister Jean. “They have a huge amount of experience — and maybe what they can do is read to children or rock babies.”

The two-story light-brick building was purchased at a foreclosure auction in mid March and sale was finalized in April.

In the coming months, the sisters will seek grants and gifts to fund the renovation of the building, which is in good structural condition despite its need for extensive clean-up and remodeling to meet the sisters’ needs.

If you would like to help with this project, please contact the Development Office, 785-243-2113, ext. 1223, or Sister Carmel Garcia (cgarcia@csjkansas.org).

If you’d like to help support Neighbor to Neighbor or any of the sisters’ other ministries, you can make a donation through a secure server with Amazon Simple Pay, simply by clicking on the Donate button:
















 

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