Neighborhood House earns long-awaited renovations

CHARLESTON—Promises are being kept at Neighborhood House and the community and staff are excited to see it happen.

The renovations, which began in October, have been a long time coming for the outreach. The 102-year-old house has been feeling its age, with sloping floors, leaks, drafts, and outdated plumbing and wiring.

Years ago, Nikki Grimball, who was the director at the time, started the Renewal Promise Campaign that raised funds for renovations; a much-deserved physical and spiritual upgrade.

Since then, the outreach has been diligently working to have every little aspect of the plan approved and signed off on so they could begin work.

In that time, Deborah LaRoche took over as program director of Neighborhood House and Ericka Plater took the helm as executive director of Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach, which oversees Neighborhood House.

Since then, the two women have collaborated with the Diocese of Charleston, which owns the property, and the City of Charleston, to turn the renewal promise into reality.

Finally, in early October, movers transferred everything from the house to storage, and a few days later, contractors were onsite to begin the work.

Miscellany/Doug Deas: Renovations on Neighborhood House outreach in Charleston began in October.

Plater said the timeline is fluid, but they hope to hold a grand reopening by March.

At that point, the first floor of Neighborhood House will have an office, staff kitchenette, a half-bath, community room, intake office, work space and large closet. The second floor will host a computer lab, all-purpose classroom, office, powder room, and supply closet.

Plater and LaRoche said they have future plans for the third floor too, but for now it can only be used for storage because they don’t have an elevator, which is required by city code.

The soup kitchen, in the basement of the former Our Lady of Mercy Church, has also undergone limited renovations, including a new walk-in freezer. In addition, the room received soundproof paneling donated by LS3P and Greystar on Trident United Way’s Day of Caring.

Volunteers with the two companies also painted the clothing center and landscaped the courtyard with plants from Jerry Poore Landscaping and Hyams.

LaRoche said the diocese is involved as well, helping with structural issues such as roofing and flooring. The outreach has also received a lot of support from Ilderton Contractors from Sullivan’s Island, whom she praised for their patience and generosity.

As for all the programs and services provided by Neighborhood House, LaRoche said the only thing that had to be put on hold was the computer class.

Plater said she sees the renovations as recognition of the impact that Neighborhood House has had in the community for over 100 years.

“It’s important that the hub they all love and respect looks nice and feels like home,” she said.

Top photo, Miscellany/Doug Deas: Deborah LaRoche, program director of Neighborhood House, monitors the progress of renovations at the Charleston outreach.