Newark Neighbours is moving to a new and larger home – the agency just doesn't know where it will be, yet.
And it's asking Niagara-on-the-Lake residents for help in finding that new location.
The food bank and thrift store has been serving NOTL for 50 years, but has grown too big for its premises at 310 John St. E., where it's been since 1992.
“Newark Neighbours has far outgrown its current space and is reaching out to key community members and stakeholders for ideas and suggestions on a potential new location and space,” Cindy Grant, chair of the board of directors, said in announcing the plan.
The service has a requirement “wish list” has been developed, including 2,000-plus square feet in space, ideally with ground floor access. Privacy for food clients is also a concern.
“Our volunteer teams are approaching this move with a touch of sadness, knowing that we will be leaving our home after so many years,” said Grant, who also manages the food bank.
“We extend our heartfelt thanks to the management and staff at Riverbend Inn and Winery for their hospitality and support over the last 30-plus years,” she added.
She also thanked Peller Estates management and staff for their help as the organization started planning its move.
“We are looking forward to working with them in the coming months as our planning progresses into 2022,” Grant added.
Founders Peggy Anderson and Nikki Aiken started Newark Neighbours in 1971 and the organization was incorporated as a not-for-profit charity in 1972.
In the first few months of operation, there were 20 families on the client list and that same year, more than 100 families were helped during the Christmas season.
Residents offered their basements to be used as collection and clearing depots and citizens began raising money to help Anderson and Aiken find a permanent home.
The operation moved among several locations in the first few years, including the boiler room of a factory that is now the Pillar and Post Inn.
From 1980 to 1991, it was located at a home on the Niagara Parkway, now the Riverbend Inn & Vineyard, which was owned by Dr. Djamal Afrukteh.
The home was converted into a museum and a parcel of land on the property was offered to Newark Neighbours if it could raise money for a building. With a long list of volunteers and local businesses, “The Barn” was built in late 1992, almost 30 years ago.
The agency continues to operate the only food bank in Niagara- on-the-Lake, supplying more than 60 families (117 individuals) with essential groceries twice a month and special holiday celebration hampers three times a year.
The generosity and support of residents, groups and organizations in Niagara-on-the-Lake allows Newark Neighbours to provide these supplies throughout the year, the agency noted.
The thrift store sells donated clothing and footwear for women, men and children, as well as jewelry, accessories, household items, small appliances, collectibles and more. The revenue from the thrift store supports the operations of the food bank.
In addition to these services, Newark Neighbours also has a bursary program for eligible graduating high school students who live in Niagara-on-the-Lake. It also regularly supports the Education Foundation of Niagara (EFN) Prom Project, Niagara College Dress for Success, and the Red Roof Retreat.
For more information, go to the agency's website, newarkneighbours.ca.