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What an amazing time United Way is in!  We are purchasing a permanent home for the United Way!  I don’t think we ever dreamed of this or maybe more truthfully, I didn’t dream of this.  When I first started here in 1996, we rented and had always rented.  When the economy took a sharp downturn, our board had the great idea to seek donated space.  We sent out an email asking our business partners if they had space available to donate.  On the first day, five local businesses said yes!  And a few asked would we take the best offer or the first offer.  That was really cool!  We moved into a portable building that Providence Medford Medical Center had open on Spring St.  They even helped us with some remodeling and then we outgrew the space.  We sent out another request for a little bit larger space and Banner Bank said yes!  Now, going on five years, we’ve been in donated space by Banner Bank and they need their building back.  That seems fair.  We’ve been pursuing our options for the past 18 months.  We laid them all on the table:  seek free space again, rent (ugh) or purchase something.  We had a building task force and they did great due diligence.  We looked at a lot of spaces that needed a lot of work and I mean a lot of work.  Some that had asbestos, lead pipes and even a little black mold thrown in.  (We’re not moving there.)

And then, thanks to the great partnership we’ve had for years with the American Red Cross, we inquired about their property at 60 Hawthorne St. and we made an offer.  They accepted!  We close on the deal on February 28 and begin renovations immediately.  United Way will have a permanent home that many partners can use for meetings, trainings and events.  There are three buildings on the campus site:  an office building to house out staff; an auditorium building with a kitchen and small conference room; and, a classroom building.  American Red Cross will continue to teach their CPR and First Aid Classes there going forward.  We’ve talked with other partners in the community who are excited to hold classes there including Resolve and Consumer Credit Counseling Service.  The nutrition education collaborative, Great Start East Smart, is excited to have a permanent location too!

With the purchase, United Way is launching a $400,000 capital campaign to purchase, renovate and begin a small building fund for those things that can and will go wrong in the future.  We hope to seek some large gifts:  one –  $100,000; four –  $25,000, ten –  $10,000 and 100 – $1,000 gifts.  We are already at 20% of our goal!  Please join us in continuing the spirit of community that the American Red Cross built in the 60 Hawthorne St. address!  And expect an invite to the dedication in late summer!  Cheerio, Dee Anne