Downtown Revitalization Grant to Benefit Spencer Pride commUnity center

This week, it was announced that the Town of Spencer would be receiving a Main Street Revitalization Program grant through the federal Community Development Block Grant Program.  This grant awards $500,000 for downtown streetscape improvements on parts of Main Street & Market Street.   The grant money will be combined with a local match of $598,000 in order to fund the expected total cost of the project, which is estimated to be $1.1 million.

According to a press release issued by the Indiana Office of Community & Rural Affairs, the money awarded to the Town of Spencer “will replace concrete sidewalks and curbs, install decorative lighting, place metal benches and metal trash receptacles as well as plant trees with tree grates. This project contributes to community development by beautifying the downtown through new sidewalks and improved lighting.”

Spencer Pride is excited to see this improvements, especially those that will have a direct impact on the commUnity center at 46 E. Market Street.

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Spencer Main Street advocated for this grant on behalf of the Town of Spencer

Spencer Main Street played a pivotal role in acquiring this grant.  Volunteers of Spencer Pride, including Unity retail manager Jacob Balash, are also involved with the Spencer Main Street Association.

“I’m excited that Spencer was chosen to receive this wonderful grant to help revitialize our downtown,” said Balash.  “It will help bring in new business & rekindle life in our gem of a town.  I think this is one more step in the right direction to help highlight the marvelous assets that Spencer has.”

Spencer Pride treasurer Judith Epp expressed gratitude to the Town of Spencer, Spencer Main Street, & the State of Indiana for supporting the downtown improvements.

“This is just so wonderful” exclaimed Epp.  “We are so thankful to all those who worked to make this possible.  The street lighting, gathering spaces, and safe, new sidewalks will make a great addition to Spencer & will enhance the appeal of the Spencer Pride commUnity center.””

The downtown work is expected to take place in 2017, likely lasting 3-5 months.  It is possible that this work will be underway during the Spencer Pride Festival on June 4.

The Spencer Pride commUnity center will see significant improvements out front once the work is completed in 2017.
The Spencer Pride commUnity center will see significant improvements out front once the work is completed in 2017.

You can find additional information about the grant announcement & images of possible improvements at the Spencer Evening World website.  http://www.spencereveningworld.com/news/2016-12-05/Front_Page/Town_of_Spencer_awarded_500k_grant.html (subscription required)

You can see the press release from the Indiana Office of Community & Rural Affairs at:
http://www.in.gov/activecalendar/EventList.aspx?view=EventDetails&eventidn=254688&information_id=253224&type=&syndicate=syndicate

Spencer Coloring Book NOW AVAILABLE

The cover-not-for-printingSpencer Coloring Book is now available at the Spencer Pride commUnity center. This is a wonderful gift for all ages, featuring nearly 60 local sites drawn by local artists Primo Corona & Susan Shorter. The book is available for $9.99 or our special promotion Buy 5, Get 1 Free.

100% of the proceeds of this book go to support the mission of Spencer Pride, Inc.

Stop by the commUnity center on Fridays at Saturdays between 10 am and 7 pm to pick up one for everyone on your wish list!

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commUnity center Grand Opening a Huge Success

unity-frontThis past weekend, the Spencer Pride commUnity center and its shop, Unity, officially opened it’s doors to the public.  The Grand Opening celebration was intentionally timed to coincide with the annual Apple Butter Festival in Spencer.

The official ribbon-cutting ceremony, coordinated by the Owen County Chamber of Commerce, took place at 9 AM on Saturday.  Although it had been raining all morning, the sky cleared in perfect time for the ceremony, which was very well attended by the public.  Most of the Spencer Pride Board of Directors was in attendance, as was many of our loyal volunteers.

The Owen County Chamber of Commerce presented Spencer Pride president Jonathan Balash with a plaque to commemorate the event and to recognize the 10 years of service that Spencer Pride has provided to the community.

Immediately following the ribbon-cutting, excited attendees flooded into the center to explore the many fantastic items for sale and to learn about our new facility.  The CommUnity Center remained quite crowded throughout the entire day.  5-8 Spencer Pride volunteers were present at all times.  Thankfully, we have so many dedicated volunteers that most people were able to take shifts of 3-4 hours in length.

On Sunday the day started and finished rather slow, but this was not unexpected.  Based on our experiences at the Apple Butter Festival in the past, Sunday is typically a low traffic day.  That being said, we were quite busy mid-day.

Overall, we had nearly triple the number of attendees that we expected.  We also exceeded our sales expectations.   Individuals in attendance couldn’t stop complimenting our space and thanking us for what we have done for our community.

We are absolutely thrilled and grateful to our community for having embraced the opening of our commUnity center with such passion and excitement.

Downtown Diversity Expanding with Unity

commUnity center with signAnother shop is about to arrive on the square in downtown Spencer.   Unity is a distinctive retail store located within the Spencer Pride CommUnity Center at 46 E. Market Street, right across from the Owen County Courthouse & just a few buildings down from the newly relocated Sweet Owen Visitors Center.

The historic building that houses Unity, which is over 125 years old, serves as the perfect environment for the establishment.  The interior design of the space evokes a strong sense of the past, yet will appeal to the most modern of sensibilities.  Products are displayed in both century old displays as well as modern glass cabinets.

At Unity, visitors can expect to find unique gifts for friends & family – & for themselves, too! Merchandise is all high-quality & locally-produced.  Featured items include jewelry, art, stained glass, hand-made fashion accessories, pottery, & much more.  “Spotlights” – biographical signage that features the artist/craftsman involved with the items on display – are prominently posted in each display to help connect potential customers with the individuals that produced the products.

“We want everyone to know who is making the products, why & how the artist became involved in their craft, & why they’ve chosen to sell their products here,” said Jacob Balash, Unity’s retail manager & longtime Spencer Pride volunteer.

“It’s important that our customers understand the quality of the products & the significance of their purchase here at Unity,”

Although there will certainly be many consistent product themes at the store, the inventory will be constantly evolving. Many of the items for sale are one-of-a-kind or are available in very limited supply.  The unpredictability of the merchandise will keep Unity an exciting place to visit.  Even individuals who aren’t looking to make a purchase will still appreciate the fine craftsmanship of the products on display.

1Each purchase at Unity supports local artists & craftsmen. Profits all support the educational mission of Spencer Pride.

Balash is one of many volunteers who have spent a significant amount of time preparing Unity and the entire Spencer Pride CommUnity Center for its upcoming debut to the public. In fact, all of the work that Spencer Pride does is done entirely through volunteerism – Unity is no exception to that.

Debbie Messer, local resident and volunteer at Unity, is excited about her work with the organization. “I’m relatively new to the Spencer community and have found my forever family in Spencer Pride!” Messer said enthusiastically.  She has been a part of the committee focused on getting Unity up and running in time for the annual Apple Butter Festival in downtown Spencer.

Preparing a new store & center has not been easy, but volunteers are confident that their efforts are helping Spencer Pride achieve its mission. Spencer Pride, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization focused on educating the public about the rural LGBTQI community in order to make Indiana a more welcoming place for all people.  The organization educates through direct engagement with the public.  Spencer Pride consists of more than 30 active volunteers who have a deep passion for community betterment. Many more volunteers assist with the various events and activities coordinated by the organization throughout the year.

Dana Beth Evans, Director of the Monroe County History Center, has also been heavily involved in crafting the operational strategy for the new store. .

“I can’t tell you how please I am to be a part of this organization,” she stated.

“What we are doing with Spencer Pride is making a real difference in this community and what we are about to do with Unity – well, that’s going to give us many more opportunities to make a further impact.”

Evans is on the Spencer Pride Board of Directors and served as the Director of the Tivoli Theatre from 2013 until 2015.

Greg Bukowski has also volunteered with Spencer Pride and has had a role in establishing Unity as well.

“What I love about this store and organization is that it’s so much more than the LGBT community. It’s about all communities and uniting them together in an exciting way.  That’s why we chose Unity as the name,” Bukowski said.

CommUnity Center Logo JPGThe Spencer Pride CommUnity Center & Unity shop Grand Opening Event will take place on Saturday, September 17th, from 9 AM until 6 PM & on Sunday, September 18th, from 9 AM until 3 PM.

Regular operating hours for the store (effective September 23rd) will be Fridays & Saturdays from 10 AM until 7 PM.

For more information about the work of Spencer Pride, please visit www.SpencerPride.org or check them out on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/SpencerPrideInc.

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