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Watertown Urban Mission half-way through $2 million campaign goal

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The Watertown Urban Mission has raised $1.1 million toward its $2 million capital campaign and is looking for community support to close the gap.

Board President Beverly Brown said campaign funds will provide basic physical changes to the mission to improve services for thousands of clients each year. Many changes, however, mean many dollars.

“It’ll be just a better flow of what we have,” she said, during a campaign announcement Wednesday at the mission.

She took a Times reporter on a tour of the 247 Factory St. building, which has deteriorated in certain sections. Its critical needs department, where people go for immediate basic assistance, lacks privacy. The Impossible Dream Thrift Store, which supports agency programs and services, has uneven floors and no handicapped accessibility from its first floor to its second floor.

Money raised through the capital campaign will allow programs to be more centralized instead of scattered throughout the building, and random items won’t have to be stored in the hallway. All windows will be fixed and a back wall by the offices will be repaired. Ceiling tiles and carpet will be replaced.

The Urban Mission’s core programs include the thrift store, food pantry, Christian care, a homeless prevention program, the Bridge Program and critical needs.

Representatives from Bernier, Carr & Associates, GYMO Architecture, Engineering & Land Surveying, and Purcell Construction previously walked through the agency to make note of items to be fixed.

“They all said we were in the right location,” Mrs. Brown said. “We just needed a shine.”

Aubertine & Currier Architects, Engineers & Land Surveyors designed the building’s improvements and reconfiguration plan.

The nonprofit agency moved into the former Halley Electric Co. building in 2004 from its previous location on Franklin Street, and a year later bought it for $350,000.

About $1.2 million from the total $2 million of campaign funds will be spent on renovations, $300,000 will go to an endowment program, $240,000 will be allocated to construction contingency, $180,000 will go to construction service fees and $80,000 will be applied to campaign operational expenses.

Campaign Co-chairman John W. Deans announced Wednesday that $1,141,300 has been raised in the quiet phase of the campaign. Wednesday’s celebration at the mission also marked the beginning of the community phase.

“Because of the generosity we’ve seen up until this point, we’re confident in reaching our goal,” he said. “When we’ve come asking, the community’s stepped up. This will truly be a mission possible.”

Fittingly, the campaign is called “Mission: Possible. Renew, Restore, Revitalize.”

Brian D. Leech of Rose Bay Builders, Cape Vincent, donated materials and labor to construct a portable progress meter, which shows how much has been raised. The meter may be used by community groups or community members at any fundraiser or event. Shaped like a house, painted blue, the meter will fill with yellow ping-pong balls as more funds are raised. The meter’s design is reflective of the campaign’s blue and yellow logo.

Executive Director Erika F. Flint said the mission served its neighbors more than 35,000 times in 2012, and while the need is great now, it continues to grow.

Results of the campaign will mean giving clients a safe and dignified environment, she said.

Mr. Deans said any financial contribution will be accepted any time, and large commitments may be made payable over a five-year period. To contribute to the campaign, or for more information about it, call the agency at 782-8440.

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