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Community Spotlight: Our Community Place

Our Community Place is starting its own housing program to help those in need.
Published: Dec. 13, 2021 at 3:39 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Our Community Place has always been a space where people can come to get a warm meal and enjoy good company.

“There are very few resources in town where people can go to just relax, or rest and with the pandemic, that became even fewer,” Annie Pangle, Lead Case Manager for OCP, said.

“It’s not only a community center, but it’s a lot like having a home to go to.”

OCP started as a soup kitchen operating out of The Little Grill Collective when the restaurant was closed.

It became so popular, OCP moved into the building they have now on East Johnson Street in Harrisonburg.

For the past ten years, the nonprofit has been finding new ways to continue serving those in need.

OCP helps people with immediate needs, like providing people with meals, access to the internet, bathrooms and showers.

Recently, OCP has started helping people with other social services, like how sign up for health insurance, find work and even their own place to call home.

“Unfortunately, most of our community members have barriers to housing that prevent them from accessing it through the conventional market.” Tim Cummings, Housing Specialist for OCP, said.

Things like income requirements and no eviction histories make it harder to pass deep background checks when applying to live somewhere.

But over the course of the pandemic, OCP has helped over 90 people who were homeless find permanent housing.

“I remember one woman who moved in, and then she came back to me and said ‘My mouth is sore because I haven’t smiled this much in forever,’ Sam Nickles, Executive Director of OCP, said.

Due to the lack of available affordable housing in the area, Our Community Place has decided to start their own housing program, so they can help put a smile on even more faces.

“And so, our big news is we’ve just purchased our first property. It has two units in it and we hope to expand it to four units. It’s sort of a pilot program, so if it works out well, hopefully we will do another one.”

The more funding OCP can get, the more support they can give our community.

“Move more folks out of chronic homelessness and into these permanent housing units with supportive, ongoing case management to try to help them not fall into the circle of going in and out of housing but to stay in that housing and overcome the barriers they have in life.”

OCP has plenty of opportunities for volunteering. They said they could use the help, as well as donations of things like coffee, milk, sugar, eggs and paper towels.

If you’d like to donate or get involved, you can give them a call at (540) 442-7727 or send an email to info@ourcommunityplace.org to find out what their current needs are.

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