Volunteers host block party to spread message about new charity organization

Correction: Due to a source error, the incorrect time was stated in an earlier version of this article. It has been updated to reflect the correct time. 

NILES — Chilly fall temperatures did not stop a group of determined volunteers from hosting a Block Party Wednesday evening outside the Ferry Street Resource Center.

The community event, which featured games, free food and live music from the Portage Prairie Worship band was hosted by the Dream Center of Southwest Michigan volunteers at the Ferry Street Resource Center.

Kim Savage, a Dream Center volunteer, said that the goal of the community party was to kick off both the Dream Center concept in Niles and the HERBIE Health Clinic, which will be celebrating its grand opening at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26, at 302 Cedar St.

At the Block Party volunteers shared information with community members drawn to the event. Savage said she hoped the Block Party showed that the charity organizations are there to help.

“Our goal today is to reach the folks in this neighborhood and let them know that we care and we love them, and we are here to serve them,” Savage said. “We have volunteers from all over Berrien County.”

Those looking to learn about the HERBIE Health Clinic could find out how the facility, located at Wesley United Methodist Church, helps to provide free services to those without health insurance. The clinic is led by Sherry O’Donnell, a doctor of osteopathic medicine, who operates her own practice called Rappha Medical Center in St. Joseph. With the help of fellow doctors who volunteer their time, the clinic is available from 8 a.m. to noon on the second Saturday of the month.

O’Donnell is also serving a volunteer to the Dream Center, a ministry-influenced concept that was based in California and shared by a number of communities across the nation.

Savage said the idea of the Dream Center is to complete outreach projects across Niles, wherever volunteers notice a need. Part of their outreach will be hosting regular block parties and adopting neighborhoods in need. In the near future, she said they intend to adopt the Barron Lake Estates neighborhood. 

While completing outreach projects is one aim, organization leaders emphasized that the Dream Center will also seek to serve as a resource center in partnership with other charity organizations. On Wednesday Savage and members of the Ferry Street Resource Center met to negotiate this and discuss what they could look like as a partnership. Savage said the Dream Center’s goal would be to work in tandem with the organization. She said she hopes it could potentially serve as an example to other charity organizations, who could partner with them.

“The Dream Center is like a hub, and we need every resource that is currently up and running in Niles,” Savage said.

Moving forward, Savage said Dream Center volunteers are also looking to find a central location for their operations.

Savage commended several local businesses for helping to sponsor the event, including Milano’s and Capozio’s. Savage’s own business, 11th Harvest, also sponsored the event. Harding’s and Meijer contributed door prizes.

“It’s kind of a community event where local businesses have come together to [support] communities,” Savage said.

For those who attended the event Wednesday, Savage said she hoped they walked away with a better idea of what the HERBIE Health Clinic and the Dream Center can accomplish. 

“To let them know that there is community help that is free,” Savage said. “We don’t want anybody to feel as though they are neglecting to get help when we are here.”

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