The unveiling revealed what you’d expect in a church renovation. More office space for the church staff. New and improved Sunday school rooms.
What’s not as typical is how the community has been welcomed into some of the new space. Local social service agencies have set up shop, including Hudson County CASA (court appointed special advocates) and other members of the St. Paul Center for Caring.
St. Paul Center for Caring is a growing community service center in the Five Corners neighborhood of Jersey City, housed and run by St. Paul. It was officially incorporated in 2007 as an independent nonprofit organization after years of informal service.
The Center manages relationships with nonprofit organizations that use the congregation’s facilities, along with critical support of city and county officials. A Community Development Block Grant made the renovation project possible, thanks to Beverly Savage, executive director of Hudson County CASA.
In addition to Hudson County CASA, the center currently houses the largest food pantry in Hudson County (The Sharing Place), St. Paul’s Lutheran Home for Children and Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous.
At the grand opening of the St. Paul Center for Caring in June 2010, Robert Menendez, a U.S. senator for New Jersey, applauded the work, saying, “Now we dedicate this new, reclaimed, renovated church basement — with new offices and meeting rooms — a well-deserved change that may make the work of the Center a little easier, but it certainly can’t make it any more valuable or more important than it has always been.”