Niles nonprofit looking to grow wingspan

Published 12:37 pm Wednesday, March 31, 2021

NILES – After being open for a year, Spero House in Niles is looking to grow its wingspan.

The nonprofit launched a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of $23,500 to get the operation moved into a larger space to better fulfill its mission to help people in the community.

“Our space was small to begin with. The need of the community, especially through COVID-19, was quite a bit,” said Spero House Treasurer Christopher Brown. “We did a few events through the year that we had to limit people coming in. We did a couple where we just had meals where we had people take them with them.”

The COVID-19 pandemic showed the team at Spero House their location, at 24 N. Fourth St., Niles, was just a place to start.

According to Brown, the organization has found a new home, but it is not quite official yet.

“We’re really trying to forge partnerships with people in the community doing different things. We want to help fill the gaps,” Brown said.

On the Spero House’s website, the nonprofit is shown to host once a month Taco Tuesdays and twice weekly coffee and bagel events for people to come to free of charge. The nonprofit also acts as a resource hub for those in need to be connected with organizations in the community who can specifically address a need.

Brown said the new facility the nonprofit is planning would ideally have showers and laundry facilities for community members to use. He said staff members are also hopeful to be able to have a full kitchen to use to help feed the community. Another initiative Spero House’s team is hoping to be able to expand is its free store of donated goods including clothing and housewares.

“We are running out of space to be able to store things,” Brown said. “The response in the community has been really good to help out. The people in Niles are very generous.”

Connecting people to these services, and to the government programs or other local organizations that can help someone in their particular situation, is something Brown said Spero House focuses on.

He said the community support of the organization has grown over the past year.

“A lot of the leaders in Niles are business leaders and in the city government. They have been very excited to help solve these problems,” Brown said. “Staying proactive is important.”

The organization works to let people know their value when they come across the organization’s events and resources.

“We try to focus on having an atypical response to a problem every community faces,” Brown said. “Some people are struggling with addiction. Some people are struggling with mental illness Some people have a perfect storm, as far as their financial situation goes. Having one standard response to a problem that is so fluid is kind of what we are trying to overturn in the community with education and our response.”

Brown and the rest of the team are hoping to be able to expand that approach in a larger facility.

“The GoFundMe is getting into the building and putting the funds together to make that move happen,” Brown said. “We are also working on grants with a couple of foundations in Michiana and in the southwest Michigan area. We have to go by grant cycles, so we have to wait for those cycles to begin.”

The GoFundMe is posted on the Spero House Niles Facebook page, and can be found on GoFundMe’s website titled “Spero House is GROWING!”