2016-10-20 / Front Page

New, bigger digs for Christian Neighbors

By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff


CREWS REPLACED the roof of the former OneUpWeb building in Lake Leelanau. The Leelanau Christian Neighbors have launched a fundraising campaign to purchase and renovate the facility. CREWS REPLACED the roof of the former OneUpWeb building in Lake Leelanau. The Leelanau Christian Neighbors have launched a fundraising campaign to purchase and renovate the facility. One door was closed this week, but another could be opening for the Leelanau Christian Neighbors (LCN).

The non-profit group has signed a purchase agreement to buy the former OneUpWeb building in Lake Leelanau and has launched a fundraising drive to raise $600,000 by Nov. 20.

“We’re compelled to act because it seems that Suttons Bay Schools has plans for the space we occupy now,” LCN executive director Mary Stanton said. “We need to ensure that we can continue to serve our neighbors… without interruption of services.”

The Suttons Bay Board of Education approved a motion last week to go to the public in May with a bond proposal to construction a community/ aquatic center in the space occupied by LCN. The specific amount of the bond request has not yet been determined.

The agency’s food pantry, baby pantry, Neighborhood Assistance Ministry (NAM) and Blessings in a Backpack program are located within the former middle school wing of the school that was closed due to low enrollment.

“We’re busting at the seams at the school and with talk of the aquatic center, we began to think, ‘What will we do if this goes through,’” Stanton said.

The 6,400 square-foot building, located at 7322 E. Duck Lake Rd. in Lake Leelanau, appealed to LCN for several reasons. In addition to being able to provide uninterrupted service, it is centrally located and near other community organizations such as the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department, Women’s Resource Center and the Department of Health and Human Services.

It also allows for additional storage and comes with private consultation rooms.

As proposed a large, open area at the center of the building would be divided to house the individual services and two complete sets of Americans with Disabilities Actcompliant bathrooms.

“It sounds like a lot of space, but it will just fit what we need,” Stanton said. “We can design it to accommodate us and the way we do business.”

The $600,000 fundraising goal includes $385,000 for the purchase of the building, $115,000 for remodeling, $35,000 for the purchase of a walk-in freezer, $35,000 for a garage and storage area and another $30,000 for furniture.

Stanton explained the space will allow LCN to better serve the public without a notable increase in day-today expenses.

“Our monthly cost of operating this new home would be only slightly increased from what we pay now at Suttons Bay Schools,” Stanton said.

LCN has set a pledge deadline of Nov. 20 with the goal of having the entire $600,000 raised by March 15, 2017.

In a precursor to the fundraising effort, LCN closed its pantry in Northport on Monday and consolidated all its services in the Suttons Bay location.

“We were down to 20 families a week in Northport and by consolidating everything in Suttons Bay thought it would be better for the organization and the neighbors we serve,” Stanton said.

She credited longtime pantry volunteer Karen Trolenberg for her extra effort at making the transition go smoothly.

“All but a couple of our neighbors said they’d have no problem getting to the pantry in Suttons Bay,” Stanton said. “We’re making different arrangements for those who can’t.”

Interestingly, the structure, located next door to the building that houses the Leelanau Enterprise and Enterprise Printing, was originally built in the mid-1990s to house the state Family Independence Agency. The department is now called Health and Human Services.

County records indicate it was sold to Bink Properties in 2004 for $680,000 and served as the office for OneUpWeb, a digital marketing and strategy agency. OneUpWeb relocated to the former Howard Energy Building in 2007, and the building it left behind has remained vacant.

The building was listed for $499,000.

Crews were at the building last week replacing the roof, which was damaged in a July hail storm.

“It’s a beautiful building. We’re excited about the opportunities there,” Stanton said. “It’ll be up to whether we get support.”

LCN has been serving the county since 1987. It encompasses 13 churches and 200 volunteers.

Pledges and donations can be sent to LCN-Capital Campaign, P.O. Box 32, Suttons Bay, MI 49682.

Questions can be directed to Stanton at (231) 510-0271.

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