By Scott Halasz
XENIA — Simon Kenton Bridges of Hope has a new home.
The faith-based group, which is trying to find a place to facilitate organizations serving community needs including those of homelessness, addiction and poverty, has partnered with Living Stones Christian Church in Xenia in the wake of its arrangement with the city-owned Simon Kenton building ending.
SKBOH had been operating under an oft-extended memorandum of understanding with the city, allowing it to work out of the former elementary school building on Second Street while it tried to raise funds to renovate the building for the aforementioned uses.
When it failed to meet its self-declared 2016 fund-raising goal, the city opted to not extend the MOU again. That hasn’t deterred BOH.
“We’re going to continue doing what we’re doing,” Executive Director Michael Deis said. “We don’t believe it shut us down. In some ways this is a blessing.”
SKBOH will help operate Living Stone’s warming center, Deis said, adding he will continue with fund-raising activities to help carry out its mission.
“Bridges of Hope is not going away,” he said. ” We’re not giving up our vision. It was never tied to a building. Simon Kenton is just a great location to do that from. We believe it’s not the building … it’s the vision and what we’re doing to serve those in need in Xenia.”
Deis added that BOH hasn’t totally ruled out the Simon Kenton building either. His group isn’t the only one interested in the building. Dayton-based Community Action Partnership sent the city a letter officially expressing interest in acquiring Simon Kenton as well.
In announcing city council’s decision last month to let the MOU expire, council President Mike Engle requested that SKBOH and CAP get together to see if they can form an alliance with regards to the Simon Kenton location.
“The way that they were going to set up the building is slightly different,” said CAP COO Cherish Cronmiller. “They were going to have space for other partners and prayer space.”
Cronmiller’s vision includes an emergency shelter for single males and females, space for those in transitional housing, and in the cold months, a shelter.
“We’re right now in talks with various funders, deciding on what’s going to be the best route as far as funding the renovations of the building,” she said. “I essentially want to be sure we’ve got at least a $1.5 million to redo the HVAC system and get the place up and running.”
Cronmiller said she hopes to have a better grasp on who partners will be by the end of the month. That could include SKBOH.
“I’m going to bring all partners to the table, including Bridges of Hope,” she said. “We’re happy to have them involved in the process.”
The extent, she said, depends on with what types of services BOH wants to help.
The city, meanwhile, is keeping all options open for the vacant building. City Manager Brent Merriman said during Thursday’s council meeting that two other organizations have expressed interest and conversations are ongoing with CAP and BOH.
“I’ve had a number of discussions over the last two weeks,” he said.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.