House lights have dimmed at Hampton theater, but there could be a bright future on the horizon

The old Hampton 5 movie theater has been closed for well over a decade now, showing its final film in 2009, but the building still stands.

It was used as a church for awhile. And then a few years ago it was gifted to Do-All Inc., an Essexville-based nonprofit that helps people experiencing barriers to employment find jobs. The nonprofit used the old theater as a distribution center for giving out items like diapers and mattresses, helping people in need.

They’ve since stopped using the facility, however, and instead opted to put the property on the market.

“We, along with a lot of other community organizations, are shifting to a more community-based model of services where we’re less in our own spaces and instead helping people get more involved in the community directly,” says Emilia Gutierrez, CEO of Do-All Inc.

Built in 1985, the old theater had five screens and a mezzanine. At over 19,000 square feet and located on Pine Road, just off of Center Road in Essexville, the property presents a unique opportunity for whoever might be interested.

And it turns out that there have been some very interesting parties inquiring about the sale. Gutierrez confirms that representatives from Amazon called to ask about the property, although they haven’t sent anyone out to look at it.

The building is currently listed at $175,000 through Ayre/Rhinehart Bay Realtors.

The 19,000-square-foot theater included five screens and a mezzanine.“We’re hoping people see it for the great space that it is. It could be used as a theater again or even a music venue. We’ve even had people come through that thought about turning it into a wedding venue,” Gutierrez says.

“It’s such a unique space, large and a great location. It has such great potential.”

As Do-All Inc. moves on from the old theater, the nonprofit has found new ways to thrive over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Services have been offered virtually when possible. The Do-Art program, which would usually host people with disabilities at an on-site studio, has pivoted to sending creative arts kits to people so they can complete the projects at home.

Gutierrez, who became CEO late in 2020, has several goals in her first full year on the job.

“I want to make sure that this community is a place where everybody feels included. We want to foster a sense of belonging for everyone,” she says.

“I think another goal of mine is for organizations and the business community, whenever they have a position that they’re hiring for, I want Do-All to be the first call they make.”

While they offer several services and volunteer opportunities, Do-All Inc. is largely known for its employment services for people with barriers, such as individuals with developmental disabilities and other challenging factors that can make it hard to find jobs.

Do-All connects people with employers, assisting them through the hiring process and beyond. Do-All assist speople through the application and interview process, offers job coaching, and helps with job skill development.

“For a lot of people, a job is more than just a paycheck,” Gutierrez says. It’s about connecting people to the community.

“People will share with us when they’re going through depression after getting rejected from a job interview. That can happen to anyone and it’s hard no matter who you are. We will walk our clients through the application and interview process,” she says.

“We’re lucky to have a diverse business community here that we can work with: restaurants, janitorial services, therapy centers. We have a great partnership with the City of Bay City and their public safety department. They have a hard time finding crossing guards and we can provide that.”

Gutierrez hopes people check out the Do-All, Inc. Facebook page, where videos of client testimonials speak to the power of belonging. She also asks that as people carry out their spring cleaning duties, they consider donating items to Cat’s Meow instead of throwing them away.

Cat’s Meow and Jewel’s Boutique are re-sale shops that provide retail training for Do-All clients and help raise money for the organization.

And as for that old theater?

“We’re hopeful that it will be bought by a company that really benefits the community,” Gutierrez says. “The idea of something going in there is exciting for Essexville and Hampton Township.”