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Grace House announces closing amid financial woes

Shelter 'opened eyes to a whole new world'

Laura Kaplan holds the son of one of Grace House’s temporary tenants on the porch last summer. (click for larger version)
May 31, 2011
SOUTHBRIDGE — Local people in crisis are losing another layer of the social safety net at the end of June, when the family homeless shelter Grace House closes.

"We looked at what we spent last year first quarter, and we realized we weren't going to have enough to get through this first quarter," said Director Laura Kaplan. "… We didn't have enough physical community buy-in, and didn't have enough time to raise the money."

The agency running it, Family Promise of Southern Worcester County (formerly the Southbridge Interfaith Hospitality Network), will still exist, keep the Gracie's Attic recycled shop running, and is still seeking a consultant to study the possibility of buying other homes to convert into affordable apartments. Kaplan said they plan to hold on to the house itself in the hopes of being able to do something else with it in the future, but the board of directors has not yet considered what that might be.

"We made the decision now because we've been looking at the long-term sustainability of the program," she said. "We didn't want to spend all the money, and want to maintain our equity in 11 Sayles St. … There are many options on the table; we just haven't had those conversations yet."

To Rev. Paul Campbell, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Church in Dudley, the closing leaves a big hole in the community's ability to help poor people.

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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