R.O.C.K. finds new location in ’Burg

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R.O.C.K. Missions has a new home in Wallaceburg, having secured 233 Nelson St. to serve as the non-profit’s hub to deliver services to those in need in the community.

A local non-profit group found a last-minute home in Wallaceburg to continue to provide assistance to those in need.

R.O.C.K. (Reach Out Chatham-Kent) Missions is setting up shop in downtown Wallaceburg once again, with operations running out of 233 Nelson St.

R.O.C.K. officials announced in February that a change in funding support from the United Way forced the operation to leave its location at 7 Generations Indigenous Cultural Friendship Centre on Dufferin Avenue on the west side of Wallaceburg.

But thanks to funding from the municipality and a donation from an anonymous family in Wallaceburg, the organization was able to remain in operation in the Glass Town.

R.O.C.K. executive director Renee Geniole said the chance to land the new location eased a great deal of stress.

“We were very, very worried. This was a last-minute thing and it was all so quick,” she said. “The new landlords were very gracious and generous.”

Geniold said the building they are now occupying in Wallaceburg – R.O.C.K. has its head office on Richmond Street in Chatham – was formerly an office building.

“We’ll have to do a little bit of work,” she said, adding a contractor is coming in and the hope is to have the facility ready by mid-April.

Geniole likes the location.

“It’s on the main floor, which is very nice for us, and we’re back in the downtown,” she said. “Our numbers had dwindled a bit moving away from downtown.”

R.O.C.K. first set up shop in 2019 in Wallaceburg, opening a drop-in centre in St. James Anglican Church.

Geniole said R.O.C.K. serves about 30-40 people a day in Wallaceburg, but anticipates with the new location, numbers will be back up towards the 60-70 they helped daily at the original drop-in centre.

The new centre will be open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. five days a week initially. The plan is to serve food, offer first aid, harm reduction supplies and hygiene products.

With additional fundraising, Geniole sees R.O.C.K. adding showers and laundry facilities in the future.

“We are super grateful for the Wallaceburg community helping us to keep the ball rolling,” she said.

Last year, R.O.C.K. provided an estimated 12,000 meals to people in Wallaceburg. Geniole said as of late March, they’d already handed out 4,500 meals this year.

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