Spencer Pride commUnity center Celebrates Grand Opening in Historic I.O.R.M. Building

The Unity Shop is the retail space with the commUnity center. It features items made by local artists. There is also a wide variety of vintage resale items for sale.

Spencer Pride president Jonathan Balash and the volunteers of Spencer Pride, Inc., are proud to announce the opening of their new commUnity center, now located at 17 E. Franklin Street in Spencer.  The center is located in the historic Improved Order of the Red Men (IORM) Lodge Building, which was originally constructed in 1898.

“We were elated to have been able to purchase such a prominent downtown building”, said Balash.  “We now have more than 9,000 square feet of space to mold into our biggest dreams for our organization.”

A group of volunteers pose for a quick photo during the moving day on January 28, 2018

“A majority of the demolition and relocation of the retail space was accomplished by our wonderful volunteers,” said Judi Epp, Spencer Pride’s Treasurer.

During 2017, Spencer Pride volunteers logged 6,531 hours throughout the various programs run by the organization, including the commUnity center.  In January of 2018, volunteers donated 1,114 hours, primarily involving their work on the new building.    Volunteers worked to preserve the historic features of the building, while making necessary changes to transform the building into a functioning space for the community.  Volunteer work days were scheduled throughout the last couple of months of 2017. The final moving date from the former location Market Street took place on January 28th, 2018.

Numerous local contractors were also engaged in the work at the new facility.  This was coordinated by Spencer Pride Director & Retail Manager, Jacob Balash.   Work will continue on other areas of the building.  Phase I, which mostly included the transition of existing operations, is now complete.

More Spencer Pride volunteers pose for a photo during the January 28 moving day.

In addition to the onsite work at the facility, the Spencer Pride Board of Directors has been working with Springpoint Architects out of Bloomington, Indiana, to conduct a feasibility study on the structure.  This study will be used to guide the organization in developing the building.  The feasibility study is expected to conclude within the next two weeks.

Phase II, which includes restorative exterior work on the building façade including replacement of all windows & doors,  will be completed during 2018.  A new interior stairwell will also be included within the rear of the center.  During demolition work at the site, a historic stairwell was uncovered.  In order to meet new code requirements, architects aided in designing a new staircase for the space.

Phase III, which includes the restoration of the 2nd story & the development of 3 apartments above the retail and meeting space is slated for 2019. There are 5 phases in total planned for the Spencer Pride commUnity center project.

The commUnity center is now formally finished with Phase I, although many details throughout the space are still being finalized.

The new building solidifies the presence of Spencer Pride in the community.  The organization has been active in Owen County since its establishment more than a decade ago.  Over the course of that time, the organization has evolved in many ways.  The opening of the commUnity center was a major milestone when it originally opened in September of 2016 in a rented space on the south side of the courthouse square.  After their volunteer base doubled and support for the retail store was apparent, plans were assembled to purchase a building downtown that would better serve the organization’s long-term needs.

Volunteers stopped for a moment during the moving day on January 28, 2018.

The new space will be utilized for multiple purposes.  It includes an expanded retail space.  Unity, the retail shop of Spencer Pride, will continue to feature unique items created by local artisans as well as an assortment of vintage resale merchandise.  The center now also includes an informal Gathering Place for community members to come to relax, read a book, work on projects, and more.  The new location also has a meeting room that is now available for free to other local not-for-profit, LGBTQ+ affirming organizations.  Amenities such as two ADA-compliant public restrooms with changing tables are also now available to the public, as well as free Wi-Fi.  Eventually additional services will be offered as the center evolves.

Spencer Pride organizers thank the many individuals who volunteered to make this dream a reality as well as the individuals and organizations who have made donations to help the project.  Spencer Pride has established a foundation and a capital campaign at the Owen County Community Foundation where the funds are being managed.

For more information about Spencer Pride visit www.SpencerPride.org or stop in to the commUnity center Wednesday through Saturday from 10 AM until 7 PM.  Jonathan Balash can be reached via e-mail at Jonathan@SpencerPride.org.

 

Festival Early Bird Registration Ends on February 24; Organizations Encouraged to Register Now

Organizers of the 2018 Spencer Pride Festival report that registrations for the festival marketplace are already at more than halfway to their goal for 100 vendors.  This is an indication of the strong interest in the 12th annual event, which is scheduled for Saturday, June 2 from 10 AM until 5 PM.  Nearly 100 vendors have participated in the marketplace for the past 2 years.

Organizations interested in registering for the 2018 Spencer Pride Festival are encouraged to do so now so that they can take advantage of the early-bird fee.   This promotion discounts standard registration costs by 50%.

To register in the 2018 Spencer Pride Festival marketplace, visit www.SpencerPride.org/portal.  Registration takes less than 15 minutes.  Early-bird registration ends on February 24th.

During the early-bird registration period, registration fees are $25 for not-for-profit organizations, $40 for for-profit organizations, & $50 for vendors who wish to sell food.  The food vendor fee also includes access to electricity & water.

The 2018 Spencer Pride Festival theme is “Remember the Past, Create the Future.”  Given the recent opening of the Spencer Pride commUnity center in its new permanent home in a historic building on the courthouse square, the theme seems especially relevant.

Individuals interested in assisting with the planning of the festival are encouraged to attend the monthly Spencer Pride volunteer meeting, which takes place on the first Sunday of each month from 4 – 6 PM. The next meeting takes place on March 4.

Festival Theme Chosen at January Meeting

On Sunday, January 7th during our regular monthly volunteer meeting, many important decisions were made about this year’s festival.  Although it was bitterly cold outside & our volunteers are worn out from all of the work occurring to prepare our new building for the upcoming move, those volunteers in attendance were passionate about our festival planning & were eager to keep things progressing.

The first order of business was an update from Jonathan Balash about the current status of the marketplace.  42 vendors had signed up as of the meeting.  Assignments were distributed among volunteers to solicit prior years’ vendors over the course of the next month.  The goal is to have 50 vendors signed up by the end of January.  This goal seemed achievable.

Next volunteers considered the recommendation for this year’s festival theme, which is the official 2018 InterPride theme:  Remember the Past, Create the Future.  Everyone agreed that it was the perfect team considering the work we are currently doing to transform our historic building into the LGBTQ+ center of the future.  The decision to choose this theme was unanimous.

In a brief discussion led by Casey Shively (chair of the festival welcoming committee), it was decided that we would pursue two billboards to advertise this year’s festival.  One would be in Spencer while the other would be in Bloomington.  This is the first time we’ve had a billboard in Bloomington.  We are excited about the awareness it may bring!

Emily Carol Black (chair of the festival activities committee) led the group discussion about the Market Street Family Fun Area.  There was a lot of debate about the pro’s & con’s of having a small carnival-like area this year.  We would continue having a bounce house, slip-n-slide, & one or two other large items/attractions, but otherwise most of the Family Fun Area would consist of the carnival.  Ultimately the group voted to pursue this concept.  This is something that has been discussed for several years, but until relatively recently the volunteer resources required made the carnival prohibitive.  We are grateful to have the support of so many new volunteers over the past two years.  We are finally able to make this work!  It was also decided to pursue having Aerialogy return this year since it was so popular among attendees in 2017.

The next festival volunteer meeting will take place on Sunday, February 4th from 4-6 PM at our new commUnity center at 17 E. Franklin Street.  Anyone interested in being involved with festival planning or any of our other work is encouraged to attend.

 

Volunteers were very productive at the January meeting

 

 

Progress Update on New commUnity center

Volunteers work to remove the sub-flooring in the future Unity space during a Work Day in January 2018

The amount of work undertaken in the past 2 months to transform our new facility into the new home for our commUnity center cannot be overstated.  Masonry, electrical, framing, plumbing, flooring, lighting, painting, demolition, & cleaning have all been utilized in order to prepare the space for our upcoming move.  Countless individuals have been involved in the project including volunteers as well as paid local contractors.

Pictured here are a few photos from throughout the past 60 days.  You’ll see various stages of our work as well as many of the people who have been involved.  Future updates will include additional photos.

Volunteers work on removal of plaster in the future Gathering Place during December 2017.
Volunteers pose for a quick break during a Work Day on Martin Luther King Junior Day

As previously communicated, the short-term plan (phase 1) is to move all of our existing operations from our rented facility at 46 E. Market Street to our newly purchased building at 17 E. Franklin Street.  This move will encompass transition of Unity (our retail store), Safe Place services, & all other elements of our current commUnity center by the end of January.  Once this transition is complete, the new facility will boast everything we currently offer & much more.  Newly added amenities at the new facility will be two ADA-compliant restrooms, an informal Gathering Place, & meeting room.

Volunteers are at the new facility daily in preparation for the completion of this phase.  Most weekends consists of 1 or more workdays where up to a dozen volunteers are assisting in the many things that need to be done.

Long-term plans include complete restoration of the exterior & renovation of the 2nd floor.  Once complete, the 2nd floor will contain 3 rental units intended for elder & other members of the LGBTQ+ community.  It will also have office space that will be utilized to offer a variety of new or low-cost services for the community.  As plans are developed further they will be communicated to the public.

If you are interested in helping out in January with this effort, please contact Marissa Mallo, our volunteer coordinator.  You can reach Marissa via e-mail at Marissa@SpencerPride.org.

Members of a local fraternity came out to help on MLK day
Volunteers from Prism Youth Community came out to help in December
Truman, one of our prized volunteers, was eager to help out with the floors.