Wellington Heights Community Church launches fundraising campaign to move into neighborhood

The Paul Engle Center is located at 1600 Fourth Ave. SE at Cedar Rapids. The Wellington Heights Community Church purchased the building and is raising $305,000 through its Building Hope campaign to restore it, and a house across the street, to establish the first physical spaces of the group. (Marissa Payne/The Gazette)

The Paul Engle Center is located at 1600 Fourth Ave. SE at Cedar Rapids. The Wellington Heights Community Church purchased the building and is raising $305,000 through its Building Hope campaign to restore it, and a house across the street, to establish the first physical spaces of the group. (Marissa Payne/The Gazette)

A home is seen at 400 16th St. SE in Cedar Rapids. The Wellington Heights Community Church purchased the building and is raising $305,000 through its Building Hope campaign to restore it along with the nearby Paul Engle Center to establish the group’s first physical spaces. (Marissa Payne/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — A Cedar Rapids nonprofit is putting its roots firmly in Wellington Heights with the purchase and renovation of two buildings — but it needs the community’s help to raise funds to realize its vision of a thriving Wellington Heights.

Wellington Heights Community Church has been a “church without walls” since its inception in March 2020, Pastor Keeyon Carter said. But he recently launched a Building Hope fundraising campaign to raise $305,000 to develop a physical space in his namesake neighborhood in the southeast quadrant.

So far, the group has raised around $110,000 to help cover repairs, furniture and the cost of purchasing buildings – which Carter says will be tools to help fulfill the mission of worship, reconciliation and development of the group’s neighborhood.

How to contribute

Checks can be made payable to Wellington Heights Community Church PO box 462, Cedar Rapids, IA 52403. Online donations can be made at www.donorbox.org/whcc.

The organization is pursuing an $180,000 renovation of the Paul Engle Center, 1600 Fourth Ave. SE. The organization purchased the historic building for $10 from the Affordable Housing Network.

The two-story wood frame building was built in 1909 and needs to be repaired before it can be used. Necessary repairs include the foundation, the roof, the exterior cladding and the floor of the ground floor.

Here, Carter said there will be space for community events and gatherings, such as nonprofit group meetings, Wellington Heights Neighborhood Association meetings and open-mic nights. – plus a multipurpose room on the second level with space for childcare during these events. .

It would also provide a place for Sunday church service and the Wellington Heights Neighborhood Engagement Program, a youth violence intervention initiative funded by a $40,000 grant from the Building Safe Communities Fund. , Equitable and Prosperous from the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation.

Outside, neighborhood kids can paint picnic tables and benches behind the center and there will be a basketball hoop, Carter said.

“There is such light in this building,” Carter said. “When we were thinking of planting a church in Wellington Heights, we didn’t want to build – we wanted to restore and restore it to its original state and resurrect that hope it brought in the past. And so we try to do everything we can to make it exactly what it was and even more.

The nonprofit church also purchased a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home at 400 16th St. SE, directly across from the Paul Engle Center, for $75,000. It needs an air conditioning system, paint on the interior and exterior siding and on the furniture, among other things, for an estimated amount of $50,000.

This building would provide offices for staff, a kitchen for the preparation of community meals, and additional space for community groups to congregate and access resources.

Work on these buildings is expected to begin in the fall and last three months. Carter therefore said they should be ready for use in early 2022.

“We want to open up these buildings to the neighborhood so they’re a safe place for the neighborhood and a safe place for teens and young people, especially on weekdays,” Carter said. “…The campaign is still ongoing and we invite anyone who has a vision, who has a passion to see Wellington Heights thrive, to contribute, as we believe we will be an organization that, together with other organizations, can help making Wellington Heights take the right steps.

Comments: (319) 398-8494; [email protected]

Norma P. Rex