‘It’s overwhelming’: Ferry Street Resource Center thankful for community support following fire

Published 1:00 pm Friday, May 26, 2023

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NILES — A local nonprofit that lost its home when the historic Ferry Street School was destroyed in a fire two weeks ago is continuing its mission to serve others, thanks to the efforts of local community members and organizations.

The Ferry Street Resource Center, which assists area residents in securing resources and to provide educational and life-enrichment programs and activities, has found a temporary home in the lower level of the Nile District Library to continue its goal of bridging existing educational, cultural and societal gaps that exist within the community. 

“We were very disappointed by what happened,” said FSRC Director Ric Pawloski. “Not so much because of our work, because we can do our work and are still doing that work, but because of the significance of the building.”

Pawloski said office hours will be from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. FSRC will be closed Monday in honor of Memorial Day. FSRC can be reached by phone at (269) 687-9860.

“People can still call and make appointments,” he said. “We like to try to take as many appointments as we can to make sure we set time aside, but walk-ins are always welcome. We’ll make time for people.”

Pawloski said he is continuing to work with the Historic District Commission and others to try to determine what the next steps are. He hopes to find a permanent home for FSRC in the near future.

“I want to make some decisions quickly, mostly from a safety point of view,” he said. “My concern is being able to keep people out of the site. It has been turned over to us; the insurance inspector completed his inspection for cause and origin, cause undetermined. So we’re able to move forward with what we’re going to do with the site, working with the city and working with the historical folks. My goal is to go as quickly as possible to avoid any opportunity for there to be an accident – the walls falling in and stuff like that.”

Pawloski and his team have been overwhelmed by the support from the community. He said Berrien Community Foundation and Upton Foundation have offered support to the FSRC. On Tuesday, the Niles Culver’s hosted a fundraiser for FSRC where 10 percent of proceeds were donated.

The Niles Summer Concert Series announced it will be donating 100 percent of the donations received at 10 of its 20 concerts this summer to FSRC.

“All of that’s going to be important to us as we try to rebuild, because we lost everything,” he said. “There really is nothing in that building that we can salvage so we’re having to rebuild from the ground up. But we think we have a really good chance of being able to do just that, because of the overwhelming support that we’re receiving. It’s been very encouraging to us at a time when encouragement was really something we needed. So we’re very pleased with all the support in the overwhelmingness of it, including the library allowing us to be here and people reaching out with spaces and opportunities.

“We’ve been overwhelmed and we’re catching up and still trying to do the work.”

Those interested in supporting FSRC can go to ferrystreet.org/donate.html to donate.