CLINTON — While a ground-breaking ceremony was a significant milestone for Clinton’s Price of Peace Parish on Sunday, it also points to a new future for the Victory Center Rescue Mission.

The Victory Center has entered into an agreement to purchase the Price of Peace Parish Office at 505 Ninth Ave. South.

The Victory Center Rescue Mission was established in 1987 by the Rev. Ray Gimenez to provide support and spiritual guidance to those less fortunate in the Gateway area. The Victory Center originally had plans to demolish its existing building at 100 Sixth Ave. North and erect a new structure.

The plans were eventually scrapped as impractical. Gimenez said the cost of constructing a new, larger building would be around $1 million. In addition, the Victory Center would have to turn away the area’s homeless while the new building was constructed.

“We’re averaging 25 people here,” Gimenez said. “What do you do with the homeless while the construction is going on, while the building is not here? That’s a bigger question to ask. And we didn’t just want to put them out somewhere. And where would they go?”

The Prince of Peace Parish agreed to sell the building to the Victory Center for $250,000. Gimenez said the building had been appraised at about $340,000. He added he appreciated the parish’s generosity and continued support of the Victory Center.

“That’s why we went after it,” Gimenez said. “And we thought, ‘OK, this is not going to cost us a million, neither is it going to cost us time away from the homeless at all.’”

The purchase is expected to be finalized in December. The parish will occupy the building until the new facility is constructed. Construction should be complete by September 2008, after which the Victory Center will immediately relocate to the parish office and begin renovation projects.

Gimenez said plans include installation of new windows and a fire alarm system, along with enlarging the existing kitchen. Currently, the Victory Center serves as average of 50,000 meals each year.

Gimenez said residents of the Victory Center will be able to live in the building during construction. He added the total cost of construction is expected to be about $20,000.

After the move is complete, the existing Victory Center building will be put up for sale.

“We found the Prince of Peace Parish as the perfect fit,” Gimenez said.

The new building will offer several advantages, Gimenez said. While the existing facility houses 32 beds, the new facility will double that number. He said men and women will be able to sleep on separate floors. In addition, employees will enjoy increased office space and additional parking, and the building should be more energy efficient, reducing the cost of heating bills during the winter.

Gimenez added that possible future plans include the creation of a learning center with computers to allow individuals to receive computer training and learn how to compose resumes in order to obtain employment.

In order to fund the purchase and renovation of the building, the Victory Center will reinstate the capital campaign that began in December. The campaign was suspended when the original plans to demolish and rebuild were deemed impractical.

Gimenez said he hopes the Victory Center will be able to raise the necessary funding by the end of this year.

“It’s a leap of faith that we’re taking out there,” Gimenez added, “but we feel strongly that we can come up with those funds.”

Gimenez said the entire Victory Center staff is eagerly anticipating the upcoming move.

“We are very, very excited,” he said. “And we’re hoping that those that are giving will continue giving to this ministry. Because these are plans of expansion so that we can accommodate the poor and needy in a better setting.”

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