Katie's Place celebrated the completion of its largest renovation project to date Friday.

Board members of Katie’s Place, home to many different human service organizations, invited public officials, members and volunteers of these organizations and other community stakeholders to a ribbon-cutting ceremony to announce the opening of its new ADA-compliant restrooms for men and women.

Demaree Deardorff, who serves on the advisory board, said these restrooms will allow their facilities to be more accessible, allowing Katie’s Place to benefit more people. These restrooms were installed in a central spot in Katie’s Place, providing easy access to the different parts of the building.

Katie's Place already has two unisex bathrooms in the office hallways, and another unisex bathroom within their thrift shop area. However, none of these restrooms are ADA compliant.

Katie’s Place is located on South Penn Street, next to Memorial Lutheran Church, and houses Shippensburg Produce & Outreach (SPO), Christ Among Neighbors, Tri-County Community Action, the Shippensburg Community Resource Coalition and its thrift shop store. The building also includes small office space for Shippensburg Head Start and Women-Infant-Children.

The bathrooms cost about $85,000, Deardorff said. Partnership for Better Health in Carlisle and the Elmer E. Naugle Foundation were the largest contributors to the project. The Partnership for Better Health awarded Katie’s Place with a $50,000 grant, and Elmer E. Naugle Foundation donated $20,000.

Gail Witwer, director of health promotion of Partnership for Better Health, spoke about the Partnership for Better Health’s three primary focus areas at the ceremony: building a healthy community; promoting access to healthcare; and strengthening the health capacity of nonprofit organizations to fulfill their missions.

She feels the support of the accessible bathrooms in a sense touches all these focus areas, and big things to come for Katie’s Place.

“I just envision, along with the directors of Katie’s Place, seeing more and more nonprofit organizations possibly being housed in here, serving more people and down the road, fulfilling the feasibility study and master site plan that was created several years ago,” she said.

The Kiwanis Club of Shippensburg and Shippensburg American Legion Post 223 also contributed significant funds for the project.

“I just have to tell you that I am very proud to be a member of an organization, like the Legion, who supports a place like Katie’s Place” said Andy Page, junior vice commander of the American Legion, who is new to the area.

He added, “I’ve come to a small community like this, and I see the friendship, fellowship, brotherhood, sisterhood that this place encompasses, and I’m proud to be part of an organization that backs this organization so well.”

The next big project for Katie’s Place is transforming their office unisex restrooms into ADA-compliant restrooms; adding a door and cover connecting to the center vestibule of the building; and adding railings down by the lower loading dock, Jerome Kater, board president, said.

For the future, the hope is anyone who enters the newly installed doors to have access to a community room, its SPO warehouse and human services offices without having to cross into other sections of the building.

Kater also noted the larger vision includes possible renovations across the two levels of the entire building. 

One of these projects is converting their community room, which is presently used as a warehouse space for SPO, to a room used for youth activities, dances, concerts and additional recreation. 

Another future improvement includes transforming part of their lower space into classrooms and space for the Boys and Girls Club. 

During the ceremony, staff and volunteers spoke about the many different organizations and programs offered at Katie’s Place.

Shippensburg Produce & Outreach provides vegetables and fruits to to those in need. Christ Among Neighbors helps people through difficult situations, like eviction notices, and gets them back on their feet. Tri-County Community Action connects people in need to information and referrals in Shippensburg, eliminating possible out-of-the-way travel. Shippensburg Community Resource Coalition is a university-community partnership, providing certain programs like the Summer Food Service Program (Summer Lunch Program) at James Burd Elementary School.

Community members also had the chance to speak during the ceremony.

Marcie Taylor, co-founder of Drew Michael Taylor Foundation, said, “Thank you so much for providing this space because it’s a blessing to us to be able to tell our grievers, many of whom are socioeconomically challenged in some way, to be able to refer to them to the program, or send them to the thrift shop, because we just know that they are going to get the support and help they need in the other areas of their lives, and all of it just really works together.”

Bruce Hockersmith, councilman and former mayor, stood up and said, “Look around you. Look at all that has been done. Look at what needs to be done. Give. Your responsibility is to give and share with all those around. It doesn’t matter who they are, or what they are, they are all God’s children, and we have a responsibility.” 

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