A local nonprofit agency is cleaning house in hopes of making a fresh start.
Workers at Pelathe Community Resource Center conducted a giveaway Monday to clear the first floor of their office building at 15th Street and Haskell Avenue. They gave away furniture, clothing and office supplies, and auctioned American Indian jewelry, art and crafts. Once they clear the floor, they plan to move into the basement and rent out the open space.
"We're hoping by cutting back on our spending we'll be able to acquire some more funding and try to start operating more programs," said Teresa Staskal, executive director of the center.
In recent years, the center offered educational programs and case management to low-income Lawrence residents, particularly to Americans Indians. Because of funding cuts, the center now can operate only seven transitional housing units for families and a food pantry, which is open Mondays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Volunteer Tina Hernandez runs the food pantry, and estimates it serves 40 to 50 families a month. She said closing the pantry is not an option.
"Because there's such a need, especially in this neighborhood. There's not any service here," Hernandez said.
Staskal agrees few services exist in this part of east Lawrence. "We have a lot of families that live close by and services really aren't offered anywhere else within walking distance, especially for families that don't have vehicles," she said.
The center's board members hope the change of office space will mark a change for the organization, which opened as the Lawrence Indian Center in 1972. Freda Gipp, board president, hopes that with a new focus, the center can get back some of the grants it lost in recent years.
"We hope to stabilize our board and get a strategic plan in place," Gipp said. "We're really looking for board members to help us get back on track."