Janice Kiaski NEW DESIGN – Urban Mission board member Sandi Rue consulted with a design board on Thursday considering how phase one development plans will transform the former Seventh Street Plaza grocery space into Urban Mission Opportunity Center.

STEUBENVILLE — With a $1.6 million seed fund, Urban Mission Ministries has developed a phase one plan to transform what many might remember as a grocery store of the past into an opportunity center of the future.

It was in this space at Seventh Street Plaza on Thursday that mission officials held what was called a “community party” announcing to an audience of approximately 70 supporters plans for the Urban Mission Opportunity Center.

The presentation was led by the Reverend Ashley Steele, Executive Director of the Mission, and Melanie Buzgan Dower of the Rothschild Doyno Collaborative of Pittsburgh, an architecture and urban design firm with which the Mission has worked since the beginning of the year to assess community needs. , its multiple departmental sites and the best way to serve.

“We hope what you hear tonight will excite or inspire you and maybe give you some insight into how you can get involved, whether it’s at the Urban Mission or just in this downtown Steubenville and then finally in the Ohio Valley. It’s our hope, that we’ll celebrate, give thanks to God, and that you’ll walk out of here excited for what’s to come,” Steele told the audience at the start of the presentation.

Buzgan Dower expressed his thanks for the contribution to date, noting that “Getting to know Urban Mission and the Steubenville community has been an honor and an inspiration. We really just learned that you are a wonderful community with a giant heart full of hope and good ideas.

The center has four goals: to be a welcoming community and gathering space; to be a place to cherish and love; to be a refuge to nourish the body and the spirit; and to focus on education, jobs and life skills training.

The first phase will include a new entrance, training kitchen, flexible space, prayer room, classroom and public restrooms.

Seed funds for this come from grants, including a $980,374 Partnerships for Opportunities and Workforce and Economic Revitalization grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission announced in September 2021; one from Ohio State; and donations from local foundations.

“We know we can start – when we finish is up to God – but we know we can start and do this whole phase,” Steele said the Seventh Street Plaza was “more than just a building.

The pamphlets audience members received after the presentation ended included a thank you note from Steele that said, in part, “It has been our dream and it is now our plan to create a space where God’s love, mercy and grace flow freely, where people from all walks of life can come to experience healing and healing. restoration and where transformation happens on a daily basis. We hope this space will also serve as a further reminder that God is only beginning to bring revitalization and hope to our community.

“We call this building the Urban Mission Opportunity Center, and it is part of what we call the Ministry and Opportunity Corridor, which connects not only the plaza, but the food warehouse, the green space of 2 acres, then down. the road a bit where our church and the war memorial building are,” Steele explained. The green space is in front of the mission warehouse and behind the plaza.

“It will be what we consider our home base which will not only have a food component, but also a jobs component, and it will also have a space where the community can gather, and our partners can also come together, so it’s one of those multipurpose spaces, because that’s usually what we end up doing anyway, and it’s a space for the community based on the needs of the community,” Steele said from the center.

“And for us, we see that while we can help people with food, shelter, clothing and things that would be considered basic needs, we also know that to really help someone recover on foot, this includes jobs, training, education and certainly spiritual care, which is why we want to center all of this in this one space.

The evaluation process has involved two community meetings since June, over 90 participants and 188 survey responses.

Along with work on the plaza, the warehouse will be modified as Urban Mission realizes the hope of becoming a central Ohio marketplace.

“It won’t change its purpose, it will just get a facelift,” Steele said of the mission installation. “We are developing a truly unique relationship with the Mid-Ohio Food Bank. We already have a relationship where we can buy food cheap and in bulk and that relationship will continue but something they brought to our attention is that they asked us to consider becoming a market in central Ohio.

Steele said that means there will be a stronger partnership with the food bank, “more food and maybe free food, which is a good word for us and allows us to serve more people with healthier food and also provide wraparound services.”

She said there were a few examples of the Mid-Ohio market happening in Ohio around Columbus.

“We would be one of their pilot projects, pilot agencies here in Jefferson County,” she says.

When asked what she wanted to get across the most, Steele said after the presentation, “It’s celebratory in nature tonight, but we want to convey that we’re committed to this community. We want to make sure the community knows we’re committed and we can’t wait to see what God is going to do in this community. , and we are grateful to be part of it.

“This is the first phase of three phases for the square, and we haven’t quite phased those others yet,” Steele said afterwards. “We’re not officially launching a fundraising campaign, but we know it’s coming, but people can definitely donate now because it’ll just allow us to move faster.”

For more information on how to donate or help, contact Urban Mission at (740) 282-8010 or visit the website at www.urbanmission.org.

(Kiaski can be contacted at [email protected])

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