New space at Grace Place

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Thursday, members of the Punxsutawney Area Chamber of Commerce held a mixer at the Grace Place Community Resource Center, formerly the Grube Hospital.

The Rev. Tim Spence, interim executive director for the Jefferson Area Lutheran Social Ministry Inc. (JALSM), said construction on Grace Place Apartments is 60 percent complete with occupancy scheduled for Jan. 1.
He said the apartment building is being constructed in two sections. In the first section, the sheet rock is nearing completion, while in the second section, the stud work is almost finished.

Spence said he hopes the workers can complete some landscaping and concrete work before winter.

“There’s a lot of work left to do outside, but inside, most of it is completed,” he said.

Several tenants in the Grace Place Community Resource Center, such as Head Start Inc., have new spaces, and the Jefferson County Area Agency on Aging’s Pine Street Senior Center has a new, brighter space.

“Because it is laid out better, it feels bigger, it’s more expansive, and it’s a nice, bright space,” Spence said. “The dining room can seat as many as the old center, and JALSM is very pleased with how it all worked out.”

Spence said Punxsutawney Head Start Inc. IV has about 300 square feet more than it did before.

“It’s all together in one room, so it’s a much safer space for the kids than when the rooms were across the hall from each other, so that’s a big asset,” Spence said.

Steve Berfield, executive director of Head Start Inc., said he is very excited about the new space for Punxsutawney Head Start IV students.
The new space has turned out well for Head Start, as it received additional square footage for the new space, Berfield said, adding that everything is brand new, and it will add a nice, new outdoor playground area for the children in the spring.

Randy Davis, executive director for the Area Agency on Aging, said the Pine Street Senior Center is smaller square footage-wise, but there isn’t any wasted space, adding the new space is much homier, and the
seniors and staff have begun decorating it.

The long staircase that led up to the entrance has been eliminated, and now there’s only four to five steps that head down to the center off Cranberry Alley, Davis said.

“Another nice feature is the folks from the apartments can come over to the senior center and have lunch,” he said. “We can also help them with any services, such as tax preparation or Medicare prescription plans. It will be convenient for everyone which is a real bonus.”

Other tenants include the Jefferson County Department of Veterans’ Affairs; Meals on Wheels; the Punxsutawney Theatre Arts Guild; C&K Mobile Business Service; psychologist William Young; Mistick Construction; Trek Development Group; UpStreet Architects, Inc.; the Evangelical Lutheran Coalition for Mission in Appalachia (ELCMA); and PathStone.

Terry Fye, of PTAG, said the theatre group had been storing its costumes and sets out in Valier.

The Theatre Arts Guild has a brand new facility in the Grace Place Community Center, with access to the elevator which helps with storing heavy loads of costumes and sets, formerly housed in Valier, said Guild member Terry A. Fye said.

Spence said JALSM is one of 16 Luther Social Ministry organizations in Pennsylvania.

There are more than 300 Lutheran social service agencies across the country, Spence said.

“We are the largest provider of social services in the country,” he said. “We serve on average one in every 50 people in the U.S.”

Spence said JALSM is four years old and the newest agency in Pennsylvania.

JALSM serves a seven-county area and seeks to expand north and west with more Grace Place projects.

“When you see the Grace Place name, you’ll know that it’s JALSM, headquartered in Punxsutawney,” Spence said.

JALSM will begin accepting applications for residency next Friday, and it will be qualifying people, since occupancy is income-based, Spence said.

An open house will be held in mid-December, with residents moving in early January.

For more information regarding JALSM and Grace Place. call 938-3200 or send an e-mail to