Our Opinion: Center finds common ground

News Tribune editorial

Common ground is characterized by sharing.

In that spirit, local churches, organizations, government and neighborhoods are partners in the Common Ground Community Center.

The center, located at the corner of Clark Avenue and Atchison Street, will host an open house from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.

Volunteers from First United Methodist, First Baptist and First Presbyterian churches will staff the center from 9 a.m.-noon Tuesday through Thursday.

Outreach efforts have begun and more are expected though a partnership with the Old Town Revitalization Company and the anticipated inclusion of educational institutions when classes resume in the fall.

Common Ground’s features include:

• A benevolence office to identify and match needs with existing resources or referrals. “I want to develop relationships, not just give a hand-out,” said coordinator Kristen Hilty. “We will follow up with people and plug them into other programs at the community center.”

• A community garden hosted by Grace Episcopal Church, which plans to offer food preservation classes as part of its emphasis on healthy lifestyles.

• A fair trade store established by First Presbyterian Church and featuring the work of native artisans. Merchandise is from the church’s annual mission to Peru and from the Partners For Just Trade.

• Members of First United Methodist Church will host a beginning sewing class, designed to teach incomeproducing skills.

• The local branch of the HALO Foundation: Helping Art Liberate Orphans occupies the upper floor at the center and plans children’s programs this fall.

Hilty described the objective of sharing when she said: “It’s not only a vision to connect with the neighborhood. There’s a beauty in having a place where churches can connect with each other.”

The center is a work in progress, but it already embodies the spirit of common ground.

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