“United Way in the past few years has really started doing a lot of training and development,” United Way President Matt Ryerson said. “We really view ourselves as much more than a funding organization, and really as a development organization.”
Strategic meetings held as a part of this outreach have outgrown the United Way conference room. UW board gatherings even had to be held at other locations.
Ryerson said a larger conference room was needed in order to continue providing training opportunities for nonprofits that are in the beginning phases.
A former food bank area will be converted into a new conference room. Work on the project began after a building permit was approved in June. The permit was one of 12 alteration and addition building permits approved last month in Cleveland.
Expansion of United Way’s efforts to bring AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) to Cleveland also necessitated the need for office space. The old conference room will be divided into office space for these workers and possibly other nonprofits.
This year, seven AmeriCorps VISTAs came to Cleveland to serve various nonprofits through United Way. The local nonprofit plans to expand its partnership with the VISTA program through the Corporation for National and Community Service. CNCS hopes to double the number of VISTAs in Cleveland next year. The cost would be divided by the community nonprofits that participate.
Each VISTA costs only $10,000, but Ryerson said the value of their work is about $33,000 each.
“[This] building was donated to us in 1984,” Ryerson said. “Incredible building, generous donation, it was the old Princess Theater and a point of pride for us. There is a lot of history in that building. They did a nice job of renovating it initially for office space.”
Since that time, growth of the organization and its expanding outreach have led to discussions about relocating.
Thought was given to potentially constructing a new building.
“There were a lot of costs related to that,” Ryerson said. “I think what we found with that was we have a really good home.”
He said the current building does meet the needs of the organization. With the renovation, it will better serve the needs of the community, Ryerson cited.
“We felt a better course of action was to stay home in downtown Cleveland rather than vacating downtown Cleveland,” he said. “We have a heart for that area of town and the history in downtown Cleveland.”
He said the decision was also made based on stewardship issues.
A long-term dream for United Way would be to develop the attic area into office space and create a “nonprofit incubator.”
Most of the current offices will not change, but improvements are being made to the lobby.
The permit for the renovations was one of 21 building permits granted in Cleveland that brought $10,336 in revenue to the city and represented nearly $2.8 million in project value.
Additions or alterations to existing structures brought in $1,962 from the 12 permits approved.
The various city projects included a covered deck, a sunroom, a fence and privacy wall in the Historic District, a deck, a patio, a bathroom renovation and similar projects.
Two business-building permits were approved in June. One was for a Script Solutions commercial building and one for a footing and foundation for an Ocoee OBGYN office.
Seven residential permits were approved for single-family homes and duplexes.