GREENFIELD — It was an emotional week for Mary Gibble as she and her staff moved into their new offices for the Community Foundation of Hancock County, leaving their old space with years of memories behind.
“That’s been my home away from home for 17 years, so it was emotional to pack up and leave,” said Gibble, who has been the foundation’s president and CEO since March 2006.
On Wednesday, March 30, she and her staff watched a moving company load stacks of boxes onto a truck and move them to their new headquarters — the former Realife Church building at 971 W. US 40, just three miles west of their former location at 312 E. Main St.
Ongoing renovations which started last spring have transformed the former church into spacious new offices, with a large meeting space called the Thrive Center which can seat 160 people.
In addition to individual offices for staff, with a few extra reserved for room to grow, the facility also features the Hive, a kitchen area with a large island and dining table, as well as two cozy booths.
“We sat down at a table as a staff earlier this week and had lunch together, which is the first time we’ve done that at the office in my 17 years here because we never really had the space,” said Gibble.
The new space also features an area called the Nest, which is where guests can hang out while waiting to meet with staff or other organizations.
“This is definitely a lot different from our old building,” said advancement officer Emily Wilson as she worked on organizing her personal office on Thursday afternoon, surveying a box of potted plants that were yet to be unpacked.
Gibble is thrilled that the community foundation has been able to grow into such a large and welcoming space for the community.
“It’s really beautiful,” said Gibble, who has worked with staff on overseeing the renovations for the past 12 months.
“Our intention was to create a very welcoming, open space, and I think we’ve done that,” she said.
Gibble’s favorite feature is the spacious Thrive Center, which previously served as the sanctuary for Realife Church. It occupies nearly half of the 10,000-square-foot facility.
The 4,800-square-foot center features an all-wood domed ceiling and large stage which has been equipped with a jumbo LED screen, state-of-the-art sound system and rollable chairs and tables designed to accommodate large groups or multiple breakout meetings at once.
“The Thrive Center is intended to facilitate community engagement opportunities,” said Gibble, who is looking forward to welcoming the public to view the new headquarters at an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, September 30.
It’s been nearly a quarter century since the community foundation first moved into the large three-story white house and former funeral home at 312 E. Main St. The building was gifted to the foundation by the Pasco family, who had run a successful funeral business there for years before relocating.
“That building was an amazing gift to the community foundation when it was donated in 1999, and the work we’ve been able to do there has been very special. I had so many meetings with nonprofits and donors there,” said Gibble.
“It’s been great to have a place to have spent so much time and energy and to have met so many wonderful people, so it’s bittersweet. We’re finishing one chapter and starting a new one,” she said.
Gibble and her staff spent the past two days unpacking in their new offices, followed by a pizza party for their families in the new space Friday night.
The only piece of furniture that transitioned to the new space was an antique table handed down to Gibble when she first became director. The rest of the furniture was donated to the nonprofits taking over the former foundation space at 312 W. Main St., which has been renamed the Circle of Care.
The community foundation previously managed leasing out the office space to nonprofits, but has since handed over the facility to Meals on Wheels of Hancock County, which will now manage the center devoted exclusively to nonprofits offices and meeting space.
The hope is to foster relationships between nonprofits and provide a one-stop-shop for those seeking assistance from local organizations working there, said Lynda Kosh, the local director of Meals on Wheels.
“We’ve been operating in this building since July,” she said, referring to the former foundation building.
“We’re very grateful to the community foundation for the gift of this building and their enabling us to move forward with Circle of Care. We’re creating more office space so that more nonprofits can join in sharing the space.”
Kosh said construction to develop and reconfigure office space would likely start in May or June — including space on the second floor — which has never been renovated since the building served as a funeral home years ago.
Meals on Wheels currently shares the space with four other nonprofits, but Kosh hopes to add four to five more nonprofits once construction is complete. The agencies are able to use a shared boardroom and conference room when meeting with donors, fellow nonprofits and clients, some of whom may rely on support from multiple nonprofits.
“Transportation can be a huge barrier for those in need, so having (multiple nonprofits) within close proximity should be a big help,” she said.