Saint Joseph Mercy Health System is donating the white house and surrounding property, located at 224 W. Michigan Avenue in Saline, to Saline Area Social Service (SASS) to serve as its new headquarters.
Previously located at 131 E. Michigan Ave. in Saline, SASS is a nonprofit organization which maintains a food pantry, helps people in need with assistance such as job placement and Medicaid registration, and connects people with resources beyond the agency.
This relocation is the successful result of a group effort made up of several community organizations, including City of Saline Mayor Brian Marl who reached out to St. Joe's to inquire if the health system had space available in Saline at reduced rent that would accommodate SASS.
"As we evaluated their needs, the white house seemed to be the perfect location for their work given its high visibility and accessibility," said Robin Damschroder, chief operating officer, St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea and St. Joseph MercyLivingston. "We opted to gift the house to them to enable them to continue their important work providing critical access to social services for community residents."
This community effort began last fall when the United Way of Washtenaw County provided funding to SASS for strategic planning efforts, which included management transition and community conversations that helped determine local community needs. In addition, the city of Saline is working with SASS to assist them in applying for HUD Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding through the Washtenaw Urban County to be used to complete necessary renovations to the house.
"This is a great example of the community coming together, with each stakeholder playing a critical role to support SASS’ important work, but more generally, to ensure that Saline families have the resources they need," said Marl.
The house has been under Saint Joseph Mercy Health System ownership for more than 25 years since it was originally purchased by the Saline Community Hospital. It originally housed the hospital's marketing department and women's health services. Later, the space was leased for many years to Migrant Health Promotion Inc. which provided healthcare services to migrant workers. Since that organization relocated, the space has been available.
In addition to the house, the arrangement will include the three-car garage and adjacent parcels of land. The space will be used to house the food pantry and food storage, and provide office space for client meetings.
"We are excited about the opportunity this new building brings which will allow us to expand our services and hours to continue to help hundreds of families a month," said Jamail Aikens, executive director, SASS. "We see this building as a community asset for years to come."
SASS plans to engage the local community, including youth groups and churches, to volunteer service to complete the upcoming renovations.
The new headquarters is projected to open in the fall.