Ann Arbor nonprofit Peace Neighborhood Center
(Peace) is planning to open a neighborhood resource center in a former Ypsilanti Township church, supported by a $20,000 grant from the United Way of Washtenaw County
Peace will renovate the former St. Mark’s Lutheran Church at 1515 S. Harris Rd. to create a facility called the HUB Center, which stands for “Healing, Unifying, and Building.” HUB will differ from Peace’s four Ann Arbor facilities in that local Ypsilanti organizations will provide the majority of the center's programming. Peace will primarily provide only the space for that programming to take place.
“One of the other things that’s very attractive is having staff placed in Ypsi to alleviate some of the issues of transportation and access, because we would have a physical facility there in Ypsi,” says Peace Executive Director Bonnie Billups, Jr.
Peace is seeking input on the project from residents of the surrounding Sugarbrook and Gault Village neighborhoods.
“We had meetings in May and June to find out baseline information from nonprofits and individuals,” Billups says. “It came down to the areas of youth programs and activities, training and education programs, access to community resources, and a place where people can meet and understand their neighbors and build community.”
Peace is currently running a survey
to gauge residents' interest and determine what HUB's programming should focus on. Those who complete the survey will receive a $10 gift card per household, and also be entered into a drawing for a $100 gift card.
Billups wants to focus on integrating food assistance into all of HUB’s programming, given that the Sugarbrook and Gault Village neighborhoods are in a food desert, with the nearest supermarkets being several miles away.
“We want the HUB to make a change to lives in the area, and provide a space for those who may not have the transportation to Ann Arbor,” Billups says. “We’re looking to hire people in that neighborhood. We’ll be renovating the kitchen into a commercial kitchen to address food needs in that community. We think that that’s something that’s constantly come up as a need for the greater community.”
Plans for HUB will be finalized and announced in December, with renovations to begin in early 2023. For more information on HUB and Peace Neighborhood Center, visit Peace’s website
Rylee Barnsdale is a Michigan native and longtime Washtenaw County resident. She wants to use her journalistic experience from her time at Eastern Michigan University writing for the Eastern Echo to tell the stories of Washtenaw County residents that need to be heard.
Photo by Patrick Dunn.