From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Community outreach ministry moves to new quarters

by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Register staff

(From the March 22, 2001 edition of the Inland Register)

After 14 years in a building that had been a house, a stay that was supposed to be temporary, Our Place Community Ministries has a new home.

From now on, people who use the services of Our Place will go to 1509 West College. They will find Our Place in a much larger industrial-looking building only a few miles from its former location on North Elm.

Some of the poorest people in the state of Washington live in the area served by Our Place, which provides food, clothing, bus tokens, gasoline vouchers and other services such as rent assistance to people in need. Eight churches of different denominations support Our Place: St. Joseph Catholic Church on West Dean, Grace Baptist, Holy Trinity Episcopal, King’s Community, Westminster Presbyterian, St. Paul Methodist, St. Nicholas Orthodox, and Salem Lutheran.

Holy Names Sister Marcia O’Neill Schrapps, who directs the Our Place ministry, has been busy the last few weeks overseeing the final steps of moving. The North Central High School football team had moved refrigerators and freezers — “the heavy stuff” — before school one morning, and the NC wrestlers and weight-lifters also helped with moving chores. To see the stacks and stacks of banana boxes full of food is to realize that moving time would require lots of muscle.

The new facility gives Our Place 6,000 square feet of space, with the bonus that it’s all on one floor. “At our other place, we had to go up and down the stairs everywhere,” said Sister Marcia.

Even though Our Place had been looking for another building since 1987, the need finally became critical. “We had been frantically looking for a new place,” Sister Marcia said. She and Holy Names Sister Ann Pizelo, who is on the board, were out driving around when they discovered the building on College with the “for sale” sign on it. “It was perfect for us,” she said. Our Place bought the building Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, always a propitious sign.

The purchase resulted in a “huge mortgage payment,” but another bonus is that half the building is rented by Educational Service District 101 for storage and their rent payment pays nearly all the mortgage payment. A third bonus is the overhead garage door into the facility that will allow trucks to drive right up for unloading.

Buying the building was one thing; getting it usable was another.

The metal structure had been used for storage, not intended to serve the public, and was rather run down. But ever resourceful, the Our Place board went to work.

Sister Marcia gave much credit to Susan Shea Smith, vice-president of the Our Place board, for finding and coordinating volunteers to get the building remodeled.

Walls were built, painting done, and new carpeting installed, almost all by volunteers. A parishioner at St. Joseph Catholic Church on Dean designed a one-piece, table-height bin that has moveable dividers for clothing and shoes. An attractive reception area greets clients when they enter.

Both bathrooms were remodeled and are handicap accessible. Our Place’s renovated facility would do any business proud.

Sister Marcia has been director since 1995, assisted by Peggy Sammons as her administrative assistant. Both began at Our Place as volunteers, with Sammons starting about the same time as Sister Marcia.

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