I've been thinking about ... the Carroll Nonprofit Center on Clifton Blvd. in Westminster.
On Wednesday, May 18, the tenants, local and state officials, family and friends of the Carroll Nonprofit Center gathered to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the dedication of the facility. We all owe a huge vote of thanks to the ANVERSE Foundation for this amazing gift to Carroll County.
The whole process began in 2003 when I was asked to convene several meetings of the Nonprofits in Carroll County to discuss what was needed to encourage and support the efforts of all the local charities. Little did we know at that time the enormity of the gift we were about to receive. The general consensus at those meetings? Space. Many organizations were being run out of Carroll County dining rooms, church basements or in the case of the Community Foundation, a closet at Human Services of Carroll County (God bless Sylvia Canon Haines).
Land was purchased on Clifton Boulevard. Dean Camlin, the architect, designed the building and Henry Lewis Contractors started digging the foundation. I spent many of my lunch hours at the time looking at that hole, watching the concrete being poured, the super structure going up and dreaming about the incredible opportunities the building represented for all of us.
On Feb. 1, 2006, the first of the tenants moved in. From the very beginning, the cooperation, sharing and networking among us was there and it must have been contagious because as the tenants moved in they were confronted with a 2,000-square-foot room filled with donated office furniture and equipment. The rule was, take what you need and if you see something better than what you have, take it and leave your old stuff here for someone else. Chief among those donations was all the furniture from the former Sturgill Accounting Office on Main Street in Westminster. What the Community Foundation walked into the building with was the lamp that is still on my desk. I have Jim Sturgill's beautiful desk and credenza. The local Gavigan's Furniture Store donate several sets of furniture and it was not unusual for a truck to arrive with other necessary items. All of which were appreciated.
One of the original tenants was the Carroll County Technology Council. Their membership, but most especially, InfoPathways, hooked up the computers for every tenant, a huge job that would have cost us a fortune if we had to pay for the service ourselves.
A few years ago the Woman's Club of Westminster donated money for the purchase of an art hanging system. Several times a years the walls of our meeting rooms are hung with beautiful local art, adding immensely to the attractiveness of the space.
But the best part I have saved for last. I have told you about the networking and cooperation we have here but to see it actually happen is magic. I remember it was a Wednesday because it was the day before Thanksgiving. You know that day, leaving work a little early maybe, to go get the turkey and all. Well, late in the afternoon a young couple and their three small children, one only four-weeks-old walked into the building. They had just been evicted from the apartment they were sharing with someone and were on the street. In two hours time they had a place to stay, transportation, money for food, diapers from The Shepherd's Staff and also Thanksgiving Dinner the next day.
This building works magic every day and we are lucky to have it.
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Audrey Cimino is executive director of The Community Foundation of Carroll County. She writes from Westminster.