GLENS FALLS — “Glens Falls is better than having people sleeping in the streets,” Director of Open Door Mission Kim Cook said Thursday in front of a crowd of more than 50 people at the mission’s future home.
Cook detailed plans for 224-226 Warren St., a much-larger and combined site than its two locations.
“It’s a really big project and a really big need,” said Cook, whose organization purchased the building, formerly a furniture store and the offices for Phil Rose Apartments, for $450,000 last month. “I really think we can get everything we want to get done for $5 million, but we can only go as fast as the community support allows us to.”
Toward that end, Cook said the mission has already raised $600,000 and will soon be reaching out to the community with a capital campaign that has a goal of $1.75 million.
Cook said she hopes the mission will have the soup kitchen open on Warren Street by the fall. The current site, at the corner of Lawrence and Walnut streets, will be put up for sale once the mission knows it will be able to make the move, Cook said.
Work is scheduled to begin this spring on a first phase, which will include building a much-larger, 100-seat dining room for the soup kitchen, a welcome area and a large classroom area. The kitchen will also be set up as a culinary arts teaching area.
The dining room at the Lawrence Street site has seating for 30 people at long tables and is often crowded.
“Sometimes, we have 60 people in there,” Cook said. “Here, we will have a lot more seating, and it will be at round tables, which make for a better community feel.”
The new center will have meeting and office space, while the current site has none.
“People come in, eat, and then very often they leave. We do not have a chance to reach out to them,” Cook said. “This way we will have places to work with them, and it will be a much more community feel.”
Cook has another reason for wanting to be done with the first floor, which is only one of the phases of the project, by fall.
“It’s also crucial for us to be ready to host Code Blue here next winter,” she said.
The Open Door established the Code Blue emergency shelter three winters ago, and it is now located in a county-owned building on Gurney Lane. Having it at the new mission site will make it much easier for people who need shelter to get to it, Cook said.
Officials expressed the value of the location because it is on the bus route.
Representatives of a wide variety of community organizations and businesses were on hand for the announcement in what one speaker referred to as “a shell of a building.” State Sen. Elizabeth Little and Assemblyman Dan Stec were also on hand.
“This project showcases the good in humanity, which is always great to see, but I think particularly timely at the start of a new year when many of us resolve to do better in some way,” Little said.
Open Door already has Planning Board approval for a major renovation of the building. Additional phases include work on the second floor to provide temporary housing for men. The Code Blue shelter will still be open to men and women, but Cook said the initial stage of the year-round shelter will focus on men.
“There are a lot more issues when you start including women, and we hope to be able to get there eventually,” she said.
Kim Sopczyk, executive director at Family Service Association of Glens Falls, Inc., will be able to focus on families. “That’s at the heart of what we do,” she said.
Cook said the mission is also reaching out to seek local, regional and national grants.
Those who want to help with the project can contact Cook at 792-5900 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.