Christian Center of Park City mission: bigger and better
The Christian Center of Park City on Deer Valley Drive is in the midst of a much-needed renovation. Fencing now encloses the parking area behind the nonprofit, and food donations, once stored in its basement, now line a hallway in the building’s main floor.
While programs such as the food bank and donations drop-off have changed locations due to construction, the 18-month project will not affect the services that exist under the umbrella of the center’s many good deeds, said Jessica Jarvis, transition liaison for the center’s construction.
For instance, people are still able to bring donations for the thrift store to the building’s parking lot. The drop-off location, however, moved west of the back lot, which is now fenced off.
“Before we had use of a large shed for some storage,” Jarvis said. “Now we are utilizing more box trucks, but the guys are still receiving the donations pretty close to the same place.”
Jarvis said employees at the Christian Center are mindful of potential traffic jams and taking up parking spots used by neighboring businesses.
“Now we are competing with parking and traffic with our neighbors,” Jarvis said. “We are trying to be as nice as possible and keep our traffic out of their way.”
Jarvis, who is also the nonprofit’s volunteer coordinator, said there have been no problems with traffic or parking congestion so far. She does suggest that people driving to drop off donations schedule a little extra time to do so.
The transition liaison said the renovation to the back lot will make things much more convenient to people who bring items to the center. The drop-off will be in the form of a loop.
“You will just pull on through,” she said. “We are hoping to have it so you can stay in your car and people can come and assist you with everything. We are really excited.”
The food bank, which was in the Christian Center’s downstairs area, also moved to another space. It is now in the spot formerly occupied by the boutique shop, which is now at 1205 Iron Horse Drive.
Jarvis said the process for receiving free groceries remains the same.
“People can grab tickets that say the number of adults and children in their households,” she said. “Then these guys do a set up here. They throw down pantry items based on the number of people in the family.”
Pantry items include meat and dairy products. Visitors can also pick up fresh produce donated by Park City’s grocery stores, which are stocked near the pantry. Breads and treats also lay on shelves on the center’s main floor.
Jarvis said people should be aware that events once held onsite have moved to different buildings. For instance, the center’s weekly Tuesday Nite Dinners, which start in January and provide free food for Park City’s seasonal employees will be at the Park City Public Library on Park Avenue.
The Christian Center’s annual Operation Hope, the holiday event normally held in the nonprofit’s upstairs area, will be at St. Mary’s Catholic Church from 1-8 p.m. on Dec. 13-14.
Toy donations for the event that provides presents for families in need can still be left at the center, which will accept them until Dec. 9.
While the shifting of program locations is somewhat inconvenient, Jarvis said the renovation is something the Christian Center really needs.
“We are really bursting at the seams right now,” she said. “When we first moved into this building, it felt like it was huge. But, as our operations have grown and our programs are expanding, we realized we need a lot more space.”
Construction, which began last week, is expected to take 18 months. Jarvis said the center’s building is being expanding and renovated. A second building will also be constructed north of the center. The expansion will add 8,483 square feet of space.
Executive director Rob Harter said the center needs $7.3 million to complete the expansion and renovation.
The center has cash and pledges from individuals and foundations that total half the amount.
“We are launching our public campaign very soon to invite the community at large to help us make this vision a reality,” Harter said.
Among other things, the food bank will look more like a store.
“The new food pantry will have a teaching kitchen,” Jarvis said. “The bank will look more like a normal grocery store, so people can shop for themselves. It brings more dignity to the experience.”
There will also be more offices for the nonprofit’s counseling program.
While dropping off items or shopping at the center’s food pantry or thrift store may take extra time, Jarvis said she hopes people will put in the effort to bring donations despite any delays.
“We want people to keep dropping things off, because that’s, you know, kind of our lifeblood,” she said.
The center’s volunteers and staff members agree. A couple said now is the time of year when people need the most help, and the Christian Center can provide that by offering free food and inexpensive clothes and household items.
“We do everything we can to make it look really, really nice and protect the dignity of folks, because this is their Macy’s, this is their great store,” staff member Carol Flippin said. “We love to see them come in and we love to see them find surprises and leave here with smiles on their faces.”
Those at the center also want to remind people that while Park City has its wealthy residents, it also has hard workers who barely scrape by each month. Program Director Pete Stoughton said the center’s mission is to make things a little easier for those folks.
“A lot of our families have jobs, but they are working two jobs just to make the equivalent of half of a normal Park City resident, and they’re supporting three to four kids,” he said. “Our ability to offset their cost of living a little bit with the hospitality and generosity the community is extending through us to them.”
For construction information and updates, call 435-649-2260. The Christian Center also has a tab for construction updates at http://www.ccofpc.org.
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