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Home Sweet Home opens new Junction community center in Bloomington

A nonprofit that serves those experiencing homelessness, poverty, or food insecurity cut the ribbon on its new community center on Thursday afternoon.

Home Sweet Home Ministries’ new space, called The Junction, opened at 301 E. Oakland Ave., Bloomington, in the former Mission Mart location. That’s just south of downtown Bloomington.

Back when the pandemic first hit, Home Sweet Home decided to close its resale. They needed to reduce the financial losses of the store at a fraught time for retail, so that Home Sweet Home's essential services – shelter and food for those experiencing homelessness – were not impacted.

It put some of that old resale space to good use with the Bread For Life Food Co-Op, which opened last May. But it wasn't sure what to do with the rest.

Community outreach manager Samantha Williams said they asked their clients what they wanted.

“And the results we got back were, (they wanted) a place where people could hang out in those hotter months and stay warm in those colder months,” Williams said. “COVID shook up a lot of things, and we weren’t really sure where we were gonna go with this space. We landed on this community center – a place where we can bring different entities and people all together at once.”

In other words, a place to feel safe, to be at ease.

Williams says it'll be more than just a place to hang out. They're actively working on striking up partnerships with other local agencies and organizations to offer services like continuing education classes, legal paperwork assistance, life skills classes, and more.

“None of them are quite set in stone. We’re still in our infant stages,” Williams said.

The grand opening and ribbon-cutting was Thursday afternoon.

“If you’re looking to help, tell your friends, tell your family, tell your co-workers to come down here and maybe sit down with some of our closest friends and neighbors. Play a game. Have a cup of coffee. And just get to know each other and have a good time,” Williams said.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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