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HNS closes on property for Berthoud Life Center, launches campaign

By: Shelley Widhalm | The Surveyor | October 21, 2021 | Local News

Loveland-based nonprofit House of Neighborly Service closed on two half-acre properties Oct. 4 with plans to build Berthoud’s first life center mobilizing multiple nonprofits in one building.

The Berthoud Life Center will provide hand-up basic services (primarily in food, clothing, transportation, housing and utilities), while joining forces with other nonprofits that help those in need. House of Neighborly Service, which operates a similar life center in Loveland, purchased land at $600,000 near Welch Avenue and Berthoud Parkway in Berthoud Common.

Courtesy photo – Architects drawing of the new Berthoud Life Center.

“Our goal for the Berthoud Life Center is we want to create a place for the community to do life, serve, volunteer, meet and socialize,” said Jinger Tomassi, Berthoud manager of the Berthoud House of Neighborly Service. “We want a place for them to be able to come and do life together whatever that might look like for their circumstances.”

House of Neighborly Service launched a capital campaign in early October to cover the cost of construction, estimated at $5.7 million, and so far has raised $125,000. The aim is to raise the full amount in 12 to 18 months, then begin construction.

The building for the life center is envisioned at 20,000 square feet covering two stories. The first story will feature the House of Neighborly Service complex, including the main service area, an expanded food room, a new clothing boutique and a 1,400-square-foot senior/youth room—the room will be available to the community when not in use for the after-school HomeWork Helper youth program, parenting classes and senior get-togethers. There also will be a 200-square-foot conference room, a flex office and a computer room.

The second floor will provide space for multiple functions, including 4,500 square feet reserved for partner agencies to offer services to Berthoud area residents. A 2,500-square-foot community room will be able to seat 150 to 175 people and will be available for meetings, events and parties with a full kitchen for catering and meals. There also will be an 800-square-foot community meeting room able to seat 80 people.

“We are just going to have a lot of space,” said Cherri Houle, assistant director of the House of Neighborly Service.

House of Neighborly Service’s partner agency space is expected to accommodate six to eight agencies, the number varying depending on the partners’ needs, said Glorie Magrum, executive director of House of Neighborly Service. Two potential partners have signed letters of intent to lease space and serve as large anchor tenants, plus there will be flex space for small organizations to share offices, she said.

The idea of the center is to allow more resources to come to Berthoud, where it can be hard to find rental space, especially for a nonprofit.

“This is going to open doors and allow more resources to serve all of Berthoud whatever the needs might be,” Tomassi said.

The move also allows House of Neighborly Service to add the clothing boutique—currently, clients receive a voucher to shop at the one at the Loveland Life Center, which spans 60,000 square feet and is two stories.

House of Neighborly Service operates out of the children’s building at Grace Place, where it is required to set up and tear down service provisions twice a week. With the move, the nonprofit will expand service days from Tuesday and Thursday to Monday through Thursday.

“This will be our own space where we can stay permanently up,” Tomassi said. “Our two days open can be very, very busy. It gives clients and people more opportunities to utilize the services, (which is) a huge blessing.”

From 2017 to this year, House of Neighborly Service saw a 212% increase in client visits, a 196% increase in food distributed and a 655% increase in utility payments.

“It’s becoming more of a challenge to fit everyone and have space to come in and spread out and get the services they need,” Tomassi said. “By building a center, we’re better able to meet the needs of clients and agencies.”

House of Neighborly Service originally operated as the Berthoud HNS Office out of First Presbyterian Church of Berthoud from 1989 to 2017. That year, it moved to Grace Place and became the Berthoud Life Center large enough to include space for other nonprofit use.

“The beauty of a life center is making services accessible for clients and affordable for the service providers. A life center really is owned by the community,” Magrum said. “We enjoy offering common spaces and a conference room, so the community can come in and enjoy it as well. It creates community awareness and is a hub for services and community use.”

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