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Stony Point Center becoming a place of connection for nonprofits in community

Partnership gets food to immigrants; others looking to join residential nonprofit hub on campus

by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service

Stony Point Center’s Meditation Space (Photo provided)

LOUISVILLE — Thanks to a new partnership at Stony Point Center (SPC), food that might have been thrown away or composted ended up in the hands of immigrants in the community who needed it.

In a small example of how SPC can partner its resources with nonprofit needs, the center found itself with leftover food after a guest group ate significantly less than was brought in to serve them. After Stony Point made a quick call to its new resident nonprofit partner, the food was picked up and taken to a distribution center that Proyecto Faro (Lighthouse Project) had already set up in the community.  At SPC, Proyecto Faro plans to use its space at the to gather and distribute food and clothing — and also provide legal representation and other services — for immigrants in the surrounding community.

At SPC, Proyecto Faro plans to use its space on campus to gather and distribute food and clothing — and also provide legal representation and other services — for immigrants in the surrounding community.

Volunteers from Proyecto Faro (the Lighthouse Project) get ready to give out excess food from Stony Point Center to immigrant families. (Photo by Ingerlene Frick)

Looking to the future, Brian Frick, the interim executive director at Stony Point Center, sees nonprofits building their capacity through connections made at the PC(USA) Center.  Imagine, he said, linking Proyecto Faro’s needs with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rockland County, which is also exploring leasing space on the SPC campus.

“These are the kind of intersections we can do to seed benefits beyond our usual sphere of influence,” Frick said.

Debra Thomas, executive director for the Workforce Development Board of Rockland County in Stony Point, New York, is collaborating with SPC and the Rockland Community Foundation on a grant for nonprofits to participate a residential “innovation hub” that SPC is working on.  The hub will be in a space on campus where local and regional nonprofits — whose work aligns with the PC(USA) Matthew 25 invitation — can gather to do their work.

Brian Frick is in one of the “innovation hub” rooms at Stony Point Center, which will be used to house residential nonprofit partners. (Photo by Ingerlene Frick)

“The grant money will allow us to do on-the-job training and possibly internships onsite,” Thomas said. “We can redeploy those whose jobs were impacted by COVID into priority sector jobs in industries like hospitality, tourism and health care.”

For Frick, the innovation hub will provide SPC with a way to better utilize their space — and to bring innovation and new thinking to the campus. And it moves one of the Matthew 25 foci on eradicating systemic poverty into action, he said.

SPC is also building an “innovation studio” where leaders can gather around a Matthew 25 or related topic and broadcast part of that gathering to churches around the country, including to smaller congregations.

SPC plans on building infrastructure for the innovation studio in November and December. Frick hopes to do a trial run in the studio in January and begin hybrid retreats in March 2020.

Eventually, Frick could see pairing these kinds of learning experiences happening at SPC with cohort groups to create deeper leaning and sharing long after the initial hybrid gathering finishes.

The new innovation studio will be built in the Allison House at Stony Point Center, where leaders can gather for hybrid retreats. (Photos by Ingerlene Frick)

“The pandemic taught us that we can gather in new ways and still be a faithful church,” he said. “We need to stay open to moving of the Spirit. For conference centers, gone are the days of ‘y’all come here’ gatherings. We need to be where people are now and where they can best engage.”

And once the innovation hub and studio take place, Thomas said Stony Point Center will no longer be a hidden gem.

“Using these tools, we will be able to share the gem of SPC with the rest of country,” Thomas said. “We’re so excited about its potential as we come together to build resources in the community to help our nonprofits and businesses thrive.”

According to Frick, Stony Point Center has always been a space of experimentation and learning for the PC(USA), from hosting missionaries for conversations in the early 20th century to experiencing a lived community focused on interfaith sharing and communal action in the early part of the 21st century.

SPC also has a rich history of spawning ministry organizations on its campus like the Center & Library for the Bible and Social Justice. At the library, CLBS hosts at Stony Point opportunities to learn what the Bible says about active social justice. Stony Point has also provided space to other nonprofits, like the Fellowship of Reconciliation USA. FOR moved to Stony Point Center several years ago, in part to be close to a space that aligns with their values and is capable of hosting larger national gatherings they envision.

 And Proyecto Faro formed as self-help group, in a primarily immigrant community in 2012, which was welcomed to stay  at Stony Point Center temporarily after being flooded out of their homes by Hurricane Sandy.


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