Village Project expands, hopes to move to larger location by Sept. 1

The Village Project is growing, and organizers hope to move into a new building Sept. 1.

Formerly known as the Village Food Project, the nonprofit organization is renovating over 3,500 square feet of space at 27378 West Oviatt Road in the same building as Thomas and Thomas Photography, near Donald Drive.

Since its founding more than two years ago, the Village Project has served more than 6,000 nutritious meals and provided extended care to about 55 families experiencing cancer in Bay Village and Avon Lake.

The nonprofit is preparing 90 full meals weekly for 30 people at a kitchen it has been using at Bay Presbyterian Church. Volunteers, mostly high school students under adult supervision, prepare and package the meals. Hundreds of additional volunteers offer gardening, shopping, delivery, house cleaning, yard cleanup and communications services.

The volunteers are anxious to meet growing needs; however, the current facilities do not allow for expansion, said Barb Harrell, the Village Project’s executive director. The grassroots community organization has received requests for help from neighboring communities.

“For the past two and a half years, Bay Presbyterian Church, its staff and congregation have supported the development and launch of the Village Project and graciously provided exclusive use of their west-wing kitchen,” Harrell said. “Without the church’s support, this phenomenal organization would not exist.”

However, the organization has grown to the point it needs to move into other quarters, she said.

“Not only have we outgrown the kitchen, it is also located in the middle of Bay Presbyterian’s youth area, limiting the ministry’s opportunity to host meals and events,” Harrell said.

The West Oviatt Road building will allow for preparation of a greater number of meals and expansion to neighboring communities, she said. Along with modern culinary equipment, it will offer more administrative and storage space, as well as space for volunteer meetings, training and operations, and the ability to host client meetings.

Building landlords Larry and Cheryl Wynocker are leasing the space to the charity for a significantly reduced rate, Harrell said. She also credited Pete Grealis, of Mannix Construction, with donating his services in coordinating renovation of the building to accommodate the new commercial kitchen.

Moving into the new facility will allow the number of meals prepared weekly to grow.

“We are serving Bay Village and Avon Lake, and our goal is, Sept. 1, when we move in here, to start serving Rocky River,” Harrell said from her new building. “Westlake will probably be a future thing, but we want to make sure we’ve made our adjustments to our new facility and that we do it well. Rocky River seemed to be very manageable.”

In addition to preparing meals, Village Project volunteers make vases and fill them with flowers for delivery to cancer patients and their families. The new offices will have room for those types of activities, Harrell said.

“We have over 400 volunteers, but we don’t have a central spot for them to meet,” Harrell said. “We also want to offer a place for our clients to come. This building offers space for our leadership teams, craft areas for the kids, meeting spaces.”

The Village Project also plans to make the space available for other community groups to use, she said.

An open house will take place in the late summer or early fall.

The Village Project operates entirely on donations. Information on how to donate is available on the group’s website at ourvillageproject.com. Donations also can be mailed to: Village Project, P.O. Box 40023, Bay Village, OH 44140.