By Pete Soyer
The old Lutheran Home of the Good Shepherd has a new name, a new look, and a new owner.
The Human Resources Development Council has renovated the building and will finish moving in Tuesday. The building has been renamed the District 4 Human Resources Development Council Community Center, Havre HRDC executive director Tom Bolan said.
HRDC was previously located in the College Park Plaza on 11th Street, and Bolan said it was getting "pretty cramped for the people who utilize our services."
"The Lutheran Home is a perfect facility," he said.
Bolan said HRDC was able to work out an affordable and practical deal to purchase the former nursing home. The total price of renovating and purchasing the building came to about $350,000. HRDC obtained the money from a U.S. Department of Agriculture rural development community facility loan.
Bolan said he hopes to have everything ready to open at 8 a.m. Wednesday. He said HRDC will be closed today and Tuesday, except for emergencies.
"We can't just stop crises because we're moving," he said.
Desks, tables, filing cabinets, copy machines, computers and truckloads of office supplies have been in transit since Friday. Bolan said 40 offices worth of supplies have to be moved. "My arms are killing me," he said.
The Montana State University-Northern Lights football team is volunteering to help HRDC move. Bolan said he looked into using a professional moving company, but it would have cost about $5,000. The staff of HRDC, the football players and other volunteers are helping HRDC move. "We're using local muscle," he said.
HRDC is a 35-year-old organization and "the location has always been an issue," he said. The HRDC board of directors has been looking for a larger facility for decades, he said.
HRDC was located in College Park Plaza for about 15 years. Bolan said it has been "a beneficial situation for us throughout the years and we maintain a good relationship with the current owners."
Due to the expansion of programs at HRDC, Bolan said, it needed a bigger building. The domestic abuse office has seen staff added. The housing program has taken on more programs like low-income housing. Bolan said people are forced to double up in offices at College Park Plaza.
HRDC covered about 10,000 square feet at College Park Plaza. The new location has 45,000 square feet.
Other services HRDC offers are energy assistance, family counseling, child care resources and referral, a family planning clinic, an employment in training program, Head Start and the North Havre food bank.
HRDC, which serves more than 1,200 families a year, provides "support and opportunities for self-sufficiency for low-income families in the community," Bolan said.
HRDC is excited to be moving into a place of its own. "We are excited to own our home, just like family," he said.
The biggest advantage that comes with the new building is the size of the new facility. Bolan said the increased room allows HRDC to provide services to people in a "dignified manner."
The only disadvantage Bolan could see is the location of the new facility.
"It's not conveniently located for people who don't have a vehicle," he said. HRDC is going to try to provide assistance to people without a vehicle, he added.
People think of the Lutheran Home as a residential facility, but "we have substantially renovated it," he said. A computer center, classrooms, counseling rooms, administrative offices, a new heating system and other facilities are now located in the building. The chapel is being made into a conference room and the cafeteria will be a place for community events, Bolan said.
For more information, about HRDC call 265-6743.