Volunteers spruce up the grounds of the new NSKS
NASHUA – More than two dozen men and women put to use their gardening and landscaping skills one warm, sun-splashed day recently on the grounds of a soon-to-open emergency shelter, transforming a rather plain, non-descript grassy area into thriving gardens and eye-catching landscaping.
The volunteers are associated with a newly created program called Lowe’s Hometowns, through which the nationwide building materials chain recruits teams of employees and other volunteers to undertake projects geared toward “restoring and revitalizing spaces that serve as the hubs and heartbeats of U.S. communities, including neighborhood housing, parks, community centers” – and facilities like the Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter’s new emergency shelter at 35 Spring St., the site of last week’s team gardening and landscaping effort.
Work inside and out of the historic Spring Street building, which originally housed Sacred Heart school, a K-8 parochial school affiliated with its next-door neighbor, St. Patrick Church.
Vacant for 40 or so years, NSKS aquired the building about two years ago, and entered an agreement with the Roman Catholic Diocese, which owns the building as well as St. Patrick Church, its rectory and the St. Patrick Parish Center at Main and Eldredge streets.
The diocese agreed to lease the future shelter to NSKS for a 40-year term at $1 per year.
NSKS officials then launched a fundraising campaign called “Spring Street Forward” in October 2020, in order to cover the costs of the extensive renovations. The sought, and received, funds from tax credits and community development block grants, and were the recipients of numerous donations from local businesses and individuals.
Meanwhile, the two dozen plus volunteers arrived early and ready to get started on planting and landscaping last week, and although scheduled for a full day of work, they completed the project just before noon.
Before they departed, Erika Cross MacDonald, the project manager for Spring Street Forward, took the volunteers on a tour of the building, giving them a first-hand look at the progress of the renovations.
The project is still on pace for a December grand opening, and once the bedrooms, offices and other spaces are furnished, clients will begin utilizing the wide range of services the new facility will provide.
At 20,000 square feet, the new shelter will more than double the agency’s shelter capacity. In addition to serving as an emergency shelter for men, women and families, the new facility will include a community resource center that will offer adult learning, daycare services, community meetings, support groups, job counseling and medical care.
For more information about the new facility and the agency itself, including its Nov. 5 Dinner & Silent Auction “Raising Hope,” go to www.nsks.org.