ELKTON — The Paris Foundation will serve its final meal at the South Bridge Street location Friday and will be settling into a temporary site inside Hollingsworth Manor.
“We needed to move forward with a facility of our own,” said Michael Brandon, executive director of the 8 year old ministry. The sale of the South Bridge Street location and the fact that the foundation has endured three flooding incidents while there also propelled the move.
Robert Imperatrice, president of the board of directors, said a trailer will be set up next to the Family Education Center while the process continues to design and build a new home for The Paris Foundation.
“We will continue to hand out personal care items, socks, shoes along with the meals,” Imperatrice said. A hot meal hasn’t been served inside the South Bridge Street location since COVID. “Because of COVID we have not been able to use our building. Our volunteers have been gracious to adapt to this.”
Those in need have continued to receive meals to go from outside the building. He added that would continue at the new location.
Brandon said there are still a few slots in the calendar for groups or organizations interested in joining the ministry, which was founded initially to serve the homeless but has grown and shifted its focus toward helping families stricken by poverty.
“We are going to reach a lot more people here ... but we are not abandoning the homeless,” Brandon said. He remembers when The Paris Foundation began, utilizing a pop up tent inside Marina Park in Elkton.
“Used to be that people would walk out of their tents to us,” he said. However camps have been vacated in town.
“There are folks in scattered locations,” he said, “But now we’re seeing a lot of families and kids.”
“We want to target these families. We can support and facilitate with other groups and break the cycle of homelessness and poverty,” Brandon said.
This new building will be a two story, 10,000 square foot structure with a large multi-purpose room, classrooms and more.
“We will continue our evening meal with a dining space, a flexible space for worship with staging and lighting, music and art rooms,” he said of the vision the foundation is working toward. Brandon said he already has folks eager to offer classes.
While there are other agencies and organizations offering services during the day, Imperatrice said The Paris Foundation will become the second shift.
“We want to have a facility to really reach out to the community,” he said.