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Grand Opening Set for Central Social Services Headquarters

Elizabethtown’s central location for social services is about to open.

A grand opening is planned for the Community Place on Washington from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17, at the former St. Peter Parochial School building at 61 E. Washington St., Elizabethtown. It will be the home to a number of social service organizations in the community, with the intention of removing barriers to access and reduce the duplication of resources.

Derrick McDonald, president of the United Churches Elizabethtown Area, will speak at the opening. The event will also feature a ribbon cutting, self-guided tours of the building, and refreshments. The building was purchased by the United Churches in July from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg following zoning approval for its use as a community center. United Churches hosted an event on Aug. 18, before much remodeling had begun, but this event will allow people to see how the space is intended to be used.

“It’s hard to envision what we are doing without seeing it,” said Doug Lamb, secretary of the Elizabethtown Ministerium.

While the building is owned by the United Churches, there are no office for the group in the building. Lamb said that the priority was to “give as much space to the providers as possible.” By centralizing the resources into a single facility, the groups will be able to coordinate services and direct recipients to other resources that they might need. In some cases, the expansion will allow groups to expand their activities. The Community Cupboard, which serves 150 families per week, was so space limited in its previous space that it could only accommodate two clients at a time. The new space and the donation of shelves allow them to provide more literature and assist more clients.

Other organizations in the Community Place include Etown Community Housing & Outreach Services (whose winter shelter opens Wednesday, Dec. 3), Elizabethtown Communities that Care, and the Bear Bags program. The space will also be used for high school equivalency and English as a second language classes, financial counseling, seminars on the opioid crisis, cooking courses and job skills training.

United Churches launched a capital campaign in April to fund the remodeling of Community Place with a target of $1.8 million. Renovations of the two buildings currently on the property are expected to total around $600,000. The other $1.2 million will be used for the addition of a third building on the property in the future, which will hopefully be a dental clinic partnership with Hope Within Ministries. Business donations and the work of over 300 volunteers saved the project around $200,000 in material and work costs.

Community members interested in donating to the capital campaign, assisting with the remodeling Community Place, or volunteering at any of the member organizations should visit their website at communityplaceetown.org for more information.

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