In 2023, Elmer's changed hands, and we had the chance to change the rules!
By transforming Elmer's into a nonprofit community center, we have secured its future for generations to come!
THE FINE PRINT
This is a new and different structure! For those curious about the nuts and bolts, here is the information we submitted to the IRS about our plan!
The Elmers Community Center, Inc. has purchased, and begun the rehabilitation of, a historic 19th Century building in the downtown neighborhood of a small rural community in the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts in order to promote social welfare and cultural vibrancy by combating community isolation and deterioration. Once rehabilitated, the building will be placed in a wholly-controlled 501(c)(2) title holding corporation. The corporation expects to file a Form 1024 for its 501(c)(2) organization by the end of the third quarter 2023.
The building, which has commonly been known as Elmers Store, sits at the center of Ashfields downtown, just two doors away from Town Hall. The building has served as shared front porch and community living room for Ashfield since the 1830s, under the stewardship of many different owners.
The corporation will be creating a community gathering space and cultural and arts center to be used by all residents of Ashfield, as well as people living in surrounding towns. The center will provide space for concerts, open mic nights, local art exhibitions, lectures, and club meetings (e.g. knitting clubs, elks club meetings). It will be available for community events, like parties, fundraisers, and volunteer coordination. During the day, it will serve as a critical third space for community members to connect with friends and neighbors, reducing isolation for many rural residents. (From Wikipedia: Third places are anchors of community life and facilitate and foster broader, more creative interaction. Your third place is where you relax in public, where you encounter familiar faces and make new acquaintances.)
The corporation, through its 501(c)(2) subsidiary, will rent space to a small cafe and bar and make low-rent physical space available to entrepreneurs from Ashfield. Similar to an ongoing, indoor farmers market, these small rental spaces will allow the building to meet multiple community needs that surfaced in the corporation's survey of town residents, while providing a small revenue stream to local producers. (e.g. bakery, micro bookstore, veggie stand, etc.). The 501(c)(2) will also rent out two affordable apartments in the second floor.
Both the corporation and its 501(c)(2) subsidiary will be run by unpaid boards and other volunteers. All activities will occur at the Elmers building. All of the corporation's time and funds will directly serve the corporation's exempt purposes of promoting social welfare and cultural vibrancy by combating community isolation and deterioration.
WHEN WILL THE CENTER BE OPEN?
There are a few structural issues we need to resolve before re-opening, namely repairing the front porch and handicap access ramp, and stabilizing some of the supports in the foundation. We need to fundraise for those projects before we can begin work! We hope to announce a more clear timeline and plan for both fundraising and construction by the end of June, 2023!
Over the summer, we will also be working to set up the 501c2, and to identify entrepreneurs who want to launch businesses that meet our survey-identified community needs! (See word cloud image; the size of each word corresponds to the number of times it was mentioned in the survey.)
Please get in touch with our steering committee if you're interested in learning more about the opportunity to rent event or commercial space in the Elmer's building!