Another valley nonprofit needs new home
A smiling, framed photo of the late Rev. John Gill Kiernan looks over the office space at Grand Valley Peace & Justice, a room in the former nunnery on the campus of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.
Having the photo of Father Kiernan is fitting because the priest who died last May was a tireless advocate for social-justice causes.
After about two decades of being housed somewhere on the campus of St. Joseph’s, the two staff members of Grand Valley Peace & Justice have been notified they will have to find a new home after the new year, said the group’s executive director, Julie Mamo.
The change comes as some of St. Joseph’s buildings are falling into disrepair, including the parish hall, which has been condemned. The office space that Grand Valley Peace & Justice inhabits likely will be used to expand the church’s Spanish ministry.
Grand Valley Peace & Justice has been allowed office space in return for paying for utilities, but having to lease office space elsewhere at market rates could be detrimental to the group’s mission, Mamo said.
“We’re just hoping that somebody in the community has a space for us,” she said about a donation of “free or cheap” office space.
To date, Grand Valley Peace & Justice has collected about $19,000 from this year’s Alternative Christmas fair, a program in which local folks give money toward real-world needs on a local and global level. Gifts include purchasing food for hungry children, livestock for a struggling family in a Third World country or any number other items and services to make peoples’ lives more bearable.
Grand Valley Peace & Justice was established locally in 1990 to serve the social-justice mission of the Catholic church. Group members help people obtain state identifications.
In cooperation with Homeward Bound Homeless shelter, the group helped create the emergency-shelter program. That program has opened a number of local churches to offer sleeping space for an overflowing amount of guests who show up at the homeless shelter during the winter months. As the need for warm beds in the winter increases, the program has expanded to include the use of at least two churches at a time.
Grand Valley Peace & Justice helps pay fuel funds to shuttle people to and from the Good Samaritan Clinic for health care needs.
Having to move into another office space within the next two months may hinder the group’s ability to seek out and apply for grants, Mamo said. To bridge the gap without some grant funding may mean letting go of her one staff person, program director Sherry Cole, and Mamo having to work without pay.
Mamo said she is having an emergency meeting with her board members soon to deal with the situation.
Despite the uncertainty, group members still feel the goal of Grand Valley Peace & Justice is relevant and should continue.
“He would not want us to give up on what we’re doing,” Cole said of Father Kiernan. “A lot of people look to us for things, but we have to take care of things, too.”