Unity House officially began construction of its new community resource center, The Front Door, which will be an integral part of the Troy community, allowing Unity House to provide enhanced services for people in need throughout Rensselaer County.
“We are confident that The Front Door will contribute to the improvement, safety and stabilization of the City of Troy and Rensselaer County, while enabling us to more effectively help people with the greatest need access services that will lead to changed lives and a changed community,” said CEO Chris Burke.
“This is an incredible milestone for Unity House and all the volunteers who work tirelessly to make it one of the most important organizations in the area. Their contributions to residents and their value to our community simply cannot be measured,” Troy Mayor Lou Rosamilia said. “I congratulate everyone involved with the groundbreaking of The Front Door, and wish Unity House continued success as they build upon a legacy of unwavering service to the City of Troy.”
The 2431 Sixth Ave. location is highly visible, within walking distance for people who need services and on a major public transportation route. Services to be offered at the 36,000-square-foot facility will include emergency housing assistance, mental health, housing, employment training and case management services. Unity House’s thrift store, the Unique Boutique, and its food pantry will also be housed there.
Unity House’s congregate meals program, Bethany @ Unity House, will also move from its current location at St. Paul’s Church in Troy to The Front Door. “This program serves the neediest members of our community in a space that offers them not just two meals each day but also safety, dignity and personal assistance in accessing the resources that can help lift them from poverty, unemployment, addiction and family violence,” said Burke.
“Our nation is a land of great opportunity. But we must not forget that there are so many among us, whether neighbors, friends or family, that have not been so fortunate,” said U.S. Congressman Paul Tonko. “ It is non-profits like Unity House in Troy and The Front Door that help those most in need, provide for dignity in a time of despair and equip those that are struggling with the skills and training for rebuilding and recovery. These are ladders of opportunity, which are crucial to ensuring people can climb into, rather than fall out of, the middle class and achieve the American Dream.”
The Front Door will include an expanded food pantry with increased space for distribution and refrigeration, a much larger thrift store, shower and laundry facilities for homeless clients, and a commercial kitchen and dining space. An Employment Support Center will also be a major feature of the facility and will provide assistance to job seekers. Unity House’s administrative offices, which are now housed in rented space at 33 Second St. in Troy, will also move to The Front Door.
The estimated cost for the new facility, which is expected to be complete in late fall 2013, is $4.4 million.
“Unity House provides an invaluable service that many depend on and I am certain that this effort to bring many of the services they offer under one roof will increase the success of those relying on their help,” said Rensselaer County Executive Kathleen M. Jimino. “As we have seen through our own efforts in the County, many individuals’ paths to self-sufficiency and a productive place in society rely upon a dedicated effort that seeks to address the multitude of barriers that may exist from mental health needs, addiction, or domestic violence, to name a few. I wish Unity House great success on this endeavor and look forward to the continued positive impact it will have on the community.”
“Unity House has a history going back more than 40 years of providing great assistance to many individuals and families throughout our community,” said New York State Senator Neil D. Breslin.” This new community resource center, The Front Door, will help them continue this effort to provide these important services to some of the most needy in Rensselaer County.”
During the construction kickoff event, Unity House also announced the public phase of its $8 million capital campaign, undertaken to raise funds to build The Front Door and also the organization’s new domestic violence shelter, Sojouner Place, which opened in Troy in the spring of 2012.
To date, Unity House has raised $6.5 million toward the campaign goal. John Baackes, president, AmeriHealth Mercy; David Ellis, general manager, Northeast Acura and vice president, New York Light Energy; and Marsha Ras, principal, Hall & Associates, are the campaign co-chairs. Major donors include the Howard & Bush Foundation, E. Stewart Jones and Kimberly Sanger Jones, KeyBank, Massry Charitable Foundation, The McCarthy Charities, SEFCU, and the Troy Savings Bank Charitable Foundation.
The three-story, 13,800-square-foot Sojouner Place has capacity for 33 beds and flexible spaces to accommodate families of different sizes. The main floor has common space to serve residents, and the second floor is dedicated to women with children. The top floor features space for single women with mental health issues and other special needs. Sojourner Place also features a commercial kitchen capable of preparing nearly 40,000 meals annually and a family-style dining area. A community room and library with telephone and computer access to help facilitate residents’ housing and job searches and program and counseling offices are also part of the facility. The cost to construct and furnish Sojourner Place was $3.7 million.
Since 1971 Unity House has been assisting members of the community with issues involving poverty, hunger, joblessness, homelessness, violence, developmental delays and mental illness. Funds raised through the campaign will assist the organization in replacing two failing facilities so that it can better serve an increased number of people in the community.
For more information on Unity House, contact Diane Cameron Pascone, Director of Development, at 274-2633, x356.