Community foundation plans move to new building

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GREENFIELD — A church on Greenfield’s west side will be the new home for the Hancock County Community Foundation in what officials say will mean even more ability to serve the community and nonprofits.

Realife Church, 971 W. U.S. 40, was sold to the foundation this week. As the Realife congregation continues to renovate the former Family Fun and Fitness building, 5151 W. U.S. 40, for an even bigger church space in the spring of 2022, the foundation will move into the former church next summer.

Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

“We are very excited about the opportunity,” said Mary Gibble, president and CEO of the community foundation.

The move will nearly double the space the foundation currently has at 312 E. Main St., and will also provide for a large octagonal auditorium to host nonprofit community meetings and networking events.

Gibble envisions the entire property as “a hub of opportunity, a welcoming space we can bring opportunities for people to work together, converse together, grow together and learn together.”

The community foundation grants more than $2 million annually and gathers diverse groups of educators, nonprofits and community members. As groups are gathering more in-person now, Gibble added, they’re simply running out of meeting space and parking at their current site.

Gibble said the board had considered renovating the current property. But as they dreamed of ways the foundation could grow — including an initiative called “Thrive Hancock County” to bring together ideas of what the community could look like 50 to 100 years from now — Gibble said their dreams were becoming too big for the current space.

That’s what triggered an outward look, she said, and driving by Realife Church several times and seeing a “For Sale” sign was just the answer they needed.

Gibble said she’s not only looking forward to the new auditorium and office space, but also plenty of parking and greenspace that backs up to the Pennsy Trail.

Jan Viehweg, foundation board chair, said in a press release that they are excited the new home will advance the foundation’s deeply rooted values in education, nonprofit work and donor stewardship.

The foundation has a staff of eight; there are no current plans to expand staff, Gibble said, but the foundation has seen plenty of growth in its 29-year history. Originally the foundation was housed in the Chamber building on the Courthouse Square. Its current site — the former Pasco Family Funeral Home— was gifted to the foundation in 1999 by the Pasco family.

Gibble said that gift was a game changer for the visibility of the foundation, as she hopes this next step will also be. Gibble expects some renovations to the site in the summer; a tentative move-in date is August 2022.

Adam Detamore, pastor of Realife Church, said in an email that Realife is thrilled that the foundation purchased the site.

“We have a shared vision to serve the people of Hancock County and to make our community the best it can be,” he said. “We are excited about our own future and look forward to moving into our newly renovated building in the spring. The sale of this property represents a new season for both organizations and is an answer to prayer for the people of Realife Church.”

The future of the property at 312 E. Main St. is yet to be determined. The building also houses offices for the Hancock County Women’s Resource Center, Hancock County Children’s Choir, Leaders in Navigating Knowledge and the Children’s Bureau. Gibble said it’s uncertain whether those nonprofits would stay in the building or also move.

“Whatever it is, we definitely want it to be a community asset,” she said of their current building. “We’re in downtown Greenfield, and it’s important to us to be a steward of the gift that was given to us in an appropriate way.”

Gibble stressed that foundation staff and board are grateful to the community for its support.

“We feel incredibly fortunate and very thankful we are in a position to be able to do this,” she said.

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