The St. Michaels Community Center purchased its Railroad Avenue headquarters in 2015. The structure was constructed before World War II as a lumber storage warehouse. It’s had only minimal changes and upgrades since then. The nonprofit has made do with its crudely constructed interior, no windows, no heat or air conditioning in most of the building, and without handicapped accessibility, among other issues.
“Our building’s primary asset is its location in the commercial district near the people we serve,” said St. Michaels Community Center Executive Director Patrick Rofe. “This long-awaited adaptive renovation will make the St. Michaels Community Center the only fully-equipped resource center for social services on the Bay Hundred peninsula.”
The planned renovations will include a fully equipped modern commercial kitchen to expand food distribution and meal service to those in need, and training for jobs in restaurants and hotels. Bright, well-equipped classrooms and a multipurpose room for community gatherings are included in the plans, with the Community Center anticipating double the number of people making use of the Center compared to today’s participation levels, once the new building is fully operational.
“This will give us a place to do our best work and have the greatest impact on the lives of the children and adults we serve,” said SMCC Advisory Board President Langley Shook.
Shook says more than half of the necessary funding already has been raised, including $1.225 million from the State of Maryland.
“The State’s support is a great vote of confidence for our first-ever capital campaign and an investment in securing a sustainable future for the Community Center’s essential work,” said Shook. “We serve at the heart of this community, and these improvements will give us a much better platform from which to serve our community.”
“This funding will help us to have the improved facilities needed to support our food distribution program and a new culinary arts workforce training program, for example,” said Rofe. “This will benefit our participants and local restaurants in need of well-trained employees.
“We’d like to start a Farm-to-Table program that will explore every topic related to nutrition and health, and for growing vegetables and fruits in our 40 community garden plots.”
Rofe says the Town’s Historic District Commission praised and unanimously approved the design of the renovated building, and an application for a building permit has been submitted to the Town.
The nonprofit is now inviting the public to participate in fundraising for the new building, with naming opportunities and more in the works before an anticipated 2022 groundbreaking.
“SMCC’s priority commitment is to the needs of the region’s population who lack the resources to lift themselves from poverty,” said Shook. “We will continue our long-time commitment to the food insecure and will add to that workforce development programming to enable adults’ transition to self-sufficiency.”
Architectural renderings of the new building and more about SMCC’s capital improvements, including information about how to support the campaign, can be found at www.stmichaelscc.org/future.
The St. Michaels Community Center’s mission is to serve, empower, and connect the community, with year-round programs and activities for children, families, and adults. Donations to SMCC and proceeds from its Treasure Cove Thrift Shop on Railroad Ave. in St. Michaels help the nonprofit provide year-round programs, services, and community events for residents of St. Michaels and the Bay Hundred area.