Over the last six years, the programming of GraceWorks has outgrown the spatial capacity of Grace Episcopal Church, Woodlawn. The number of participants has grown consistently since our beginning, and so has the need for more space for program activities, both educational and recreational. Approximately two years ago GraceWorks received in donation an abandoned, long-vacant church building at 125 57th Street. This building is directly adjacent to the green space used by GraceWorks attendees each summer for community service projects. It is also located less than a block from our Grace Episcopal Church campus.
Now unofficially known as “Grace Place,” the new property and buildings are undergoing a thorough renovation through the efforts of staff and parishioners of Grace Episcopal Church, St. Stephen’s, St, Luke’s, St. Mary’s on the Highlands, Advent, as well as a number of other churches and volunteers. GraceWorks attendees and other youth groups have also contributed to the renovation. Progress so far includes the removal of wall and ceiling plaster to determine the building’s structural integrity and to identify what must be done to meet safety code. Two walls are also being repaired in preparation for the installation of a new roof.
Service and Programming
Our vision for Grace Place is that it will host and house a wide range of service efforts and programs for the Woodlawn neighborhood. In addition to allowing GraceWorks to expand in size and scope of programming, it will serve as a place of worship and celebration. The sanctuary area will be entirely refurbished in a style consistent with the Episcopal tradition while maintaining the aesthetic of the 1920’s neo-Gothic architecture. It will be used as a chapel by the GraceWorks staff and youth and will be made available to area faith communities in need of physical space to meet and worship.
In addition, the area of the structure contiguous to the sanctuary will be repurposed to meet a number of community needs. A large open area will be suitable for youth gatherings, church luncheons/conferences, etc. It will also be used as a cooling station during the summer and an overnight warming station in winter for homeless and economically vulnerable neighbors, operated under the direction of Grace Episcopal Church.
Other sections of the building will be designed to serve a range of needs. One area will have a vocational shop, with a range of tools and equipment, and an area for indoor construction work during inclement weather. There will also be classrooms for tutoring and to accommodate after-school programs such as STAIRS.
Fully repurposing Grace Place will cost an estimated $200,000, with an additional $50,000 required for items and equipment. Our goal is to open Grace Place in approximately two years. To do this, we need your help. There are three ways to contribute to the completion of this project:
- Donate directly to Grace Works
- Help in the procurement of tools and supplies needed for renovation and rebuilding (including a new roof)
- Volunteer your time and/or expertise for upcoming work days
Our vision for Grace Place is that it will become a center of community activity strengthening community bonds and nurturing the spiritual, emotional and intellectual health and well-being of the children and adults in our neighborhood.