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A done deal

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The Crisis Prevention Task Force has officially taken possession of the Dauphin First United Church and is currently in the process of organizing the space.
Utilizing a federal Reaching Homelessness grant of $250,000 the task force purchased the property for $215,000, said task force member and spokesman Randy Daley, adding the grant let the group purchase the property outright, rather than resorting to the backup plan of the church holding the mortgage.
“It is a hell of a deal, obviously, for the assessment value of the building, but no one was going to pay that kind of money for a church. But for us it’s just like turnkey. I mean we’re going to do some renos to support some projects, you know, with a laundry room and an extra washroom and that kind of stuff. But other than that, that place was sort of built for what we were trying to get done,” Daley said.
“So we paid off the church and we have enough left for renos. With COVID, it gives us a chance to do some stuff in advance of getting programming going, when we are allowed to get programming going.”
The congregation, which will continue to utilize the facility for services, is currently developing two offices and a washroom at the front of the sanctuary.
The arrangement is a positive for the church, said chairman Fern Beasse.
“Unfortunately, our group is elderly and not able to do what we wish to do, but this Crisis Prevention Task Force will be able to carry on what our church, if we had younger congregation, would have been able to do,” Beasse said.
“We feel that the building will be able to be used by a group who is looking after people who need community support. And that is a good thing.”
Not having to worry about building upkeep will allow the congregation to carry on with its community service
“The church is not gone and, as a group now, instead of focussing on things to keep the building going, we can focus on what, as a church, we want to do,” Beasse said.
Beasse said church members are involved with activities such as the school lunch program, Under One Roof and the Dauphin and District Community Food Bank. Selling the buildings does not change any of that, he added.
“We will be able to look at that money and say is more of that we can do out in the community,” Beasse said, adding it is important to remember the church is more than a building.
“Some of that money will help us to continue to operate as a church, as well. We have an aging congregation and we have a congregation that is getting smaller as time goes by.”
And that congregation feels good about the future of it’s old property and the good work which will be carried out there.
“As a congregation we are pleased that the church buildings will be used to support the people in the community that need help. And I think the important thing to remember is that the people that need help could easily be any one of us, depending on the circumstances that surround us,” Beasse said.
“And the task force has a bigger circle of groups to help with the programs they want to do, which would have been likely beyond our reach.”
For Daley, the purchase brings the goal of making the task force’s subcommittee Under One Roof, become a one-stop shop for people experiencing homelessness to access the services they need in a warm, safe and welcoming environment that much closer.
The plan is to make available groups and services such as mental health workers, public health street team, Addictions Foundation of Manitoba, the HERO Club, Manitoba Housing and Parkland Crossing.
“We will be able to start looking for some tenants, because we have space available. Our goal will be to look for like-minded groups. Right now we have the HERO Club in there, harm reduction co-ordinator, those kinds of things, outreach programs,” Beasse said.
“We have a million ideas of what we’d like to do, but of course we have to get prioritized and do things that we can do. It’s pretty exciting stuff and we are glad to get to get going.”