Just as I was posting the previous story about CHANCE, I heard via email from Jeff Blackford, the organization’s executive director, with more details about its planned move and hopes for the future.
Those hopes include restoring the old church at 238 Third Ave. S.E. which has served as CHANCE’s Albany base for years. They’ve paid off the building, dating from the 1880s and said to be the oldest Albany church still standing, and hope to restore it to its original condition. They’ll seek grants for replacing the steeple.
Here’s Blackford on potential uses for the old church: “One idea is to turn it into a downtown event hall and center. Offer special events like weddings, private parties, etc. It would allow some employment opportunities and help people learn a trade of special events and party planning. It would also open another funding stream for us, as a broad financial foot print is so important for any nonprofit. Another idea is turning it into a recovery club house that would host AA, NA, and other recovery meetings, and maybe a combination of both, the club house and event hall.”
CHANCE, Blackford explained, stands for Communities Helping Addicts Negotiate Change Effectively. “We have a focus of helping people with addictions and mental health with recovery supports. We help with treatment, peer support, housing, transportation, employment, anything that is a barrier for people to find recovery and become self-sustainable. One of our goals is to help people who have taken all their lives and have them become contributing members of the community.”
As for the move to the former Pizza King at Lyon Street and Third: “We have outgrown the church building. Pizza King will become our new headquarters. We have two other locations, Lebanon and Newport, and will be opening Corvallis and Lincoln City, hopefully in the next two years.
“The new location will allow us to grow and provide additional support for people in recovery. We will be doing some renovations and creating a training area, as we provide Peer Support Specialty Training (a state-accredited training), a meeting room, a community space for other organizations that might need space, offering office space for other community partners to offer their services to a population that truly needs support.”
There’s more: “In the near future, we plan to renovate the kitchen and create a teaching kitchen (like a five-station home economics kitchen) to teach people how to cook and use what they have to make food last and help with food insecurity issues.”
County tax records show the Pizza King site was built in 1930. “We also plan to renovate the building back to the historic look it had when first built,” Blackford went on.”We are working with several people who are researching the history of the building.”
Update and postscript: The planning staff approved CHANCE’s application regarding the former Pizza King restaurant on Nov. 9, 2018.