Douglass Community Center’s old building goes down, new building coming up

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Bleigh Construction doing ground work on Monday at 711 Grand Avenue in Hannibal for the new 8,000 square feet Douglass Community Services building. Megan Duncan

HANNIBAL, Mo. — The construction on the new building for Douglass Community Services has reached ground zero are ready to start building back up.

The old Douglass Community Services building at 711 Grand in Hannibal has been torn down. The building first housed the Hannibal Clinic and was gifted to Douglass in 2006 when they moved medical services to Hospital Drive.

Stephanie Cooper, CEO of Douglass Community Services, said they continue to be grateful for that building and excited to grow into the new one. 

Although the growth started long before the construction on the new building began, Cooper said they hit a record number in 2020 of more than 10,000 people served and it hasn’t slowed down since. Before that, the annual number of people served was between 5,000 to 6,000 people.

“We thought after the pandemic that those numbers would decline somewhat and they didn’t,” Cooper said.  “Our numbers aren’t in for this year but last year our numbers looked very similar to the pandemic numbers.”

For now Douglass is working from temporary Hannibal locations. The food pantry and thrift store moved in February to 302 Broadway, and all other Douglass programs followed in April to 909 Broadway.

Cooper said footings and ground work is now being done at the site. According to Cooper, once the framing begins the project should go fairly fast.

Klingner and Associates and Bleigh Construction are working with Douglass on the design, engineering and construction of the project.

Cooper said when the basement was filled in and the ground leveled, she was surprised by the spacious lot. This means the area will easily accommodate the 8,000 square foot building.

She hopes the building will be completed by November 2024. 

The new building will be a hub of support, offering food, clothing, and housing assistance all under one roof rather than spread out around town. It will also house volunteer services in the new building.

The food pantry will have increased space, and the thrift store will be updated with a better use of space.

The building will also increase the size of their community room that other nonprofits, civic organizations or groups that need a meeting space can utilize for free.

The community room in the old building had seating limited to 35-40 people. The new room will accommodate much larger groups. 

Cooper said she is encouraged by so many who are excited for what’s to come.

“People who are just supporters or fans of the organization are excited to see the mission of Douglass continuing on,” she said. “Along with that comes the acknowledgement that the things we do in the community are very important.”

Cooper said Douglass employees also look forward to the new building.

“They are super excited for the update. They will have better technology and space to do some things we have always wanted to do but either our equipment was outdated or we didn’t have access to things needed,” she said.

Funding for the project comes from an award of $2 million community development block grant, and $500,000 from American Rescue Plan Act funding through the Marion County Commission. Another $1 million came from Congressman Sam Graves’ office.

The secured funds will not cover all the building costs. To raise the remaining amount, Douglass launched a $250,000 capital campaign in September that will run through next year

Cooper said they have already held some successful events and there will be more to come. 

Last week Hannibal’s Great River Brewing Co. kicked off their Bee Generous collaboration with Douglass in which once a month they are donating a portion of the proceeds from one keg of beer. December’s is a honey wheat (pollination) infused with blueberry purée with pearlescent edible gold glitter.

Other businesses have offered to sponsor particular rooms in the new building. She said all ideas and donations—none are too small—are welcome.

“We hope that the community, businesses and donors get behind this. Every donation from $10 to $10,000 is a great help,” she said. “We want to make sure the same work that Douglas is doing now is being done 50 years from now. Part of that is to make sure that we have good facilities to work in.”

To get involved with or donate to the capital campaign visit their website or follow Douglass Community Services on Facebook.

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