Christian Services of Lancaster
Christian Services has served the Lancaster community for more than 35 years and is adding to the long list of critical services they provide thanks to their recent purchase and renovation of a neighborhood bowling alley. Christian Services supports over 1,200 families per month through their food pantry and is the only TEFAP (USDA’s The Emergency Food Assistance Program) provider in Lancaster County. In addition to food assistance, they offer job and life skills courses, operate a thrift store, and provide a variety of emergency services to community members in need. In 2017, Christian Services purchased the bowling alley adjacent to their building with the plan of transforming it into a community hub, but they needed additional capital to realize its full potential.
Christian Services worked with SCCLF to secure $468,000 in financing to update the bowling alley and consolidate the costs they incurred from purchasing the building. However, the process proved challenging. “We initially worked together to pursue USDA financing, but Christian Services realized that particular loan was not the right fit for them,” said Brendan Buttimer, SCCLF Upstate Community Development Loan Officer. “To their credit, they stayed true to their vision for their space and saw the process through to the end.”
“Brendan gave us so many good ideas when obstacles arose and worked to understand how we operate,”said Eric Kramer, Christian Services’ Executive Director. “Even though we simply meet needs and provide services, we are a little different [than other nonprofits]. It helped that SCCLF saw that.”
Christian Services is able to provide more than bowling to the Lancaster community as a result of the loan. They offer meeting space to other nonprofits, cater nonprofit events in Pinz, the bowling alley’s restaurant, and host their life skills classes on site. The bowling alley also serves as a revenue stream, and combined with the thrift store it generates enough income to cover 80% of Christian Services’ operating costs. The stability the revenue provides allows Christian Services to go beyond simply meeting needs to building community and connection. “We are more of an event center than just a bowling alley,” said Eric. “We provide a place to gather, learn, celebrate, and just spend time getting to know each other. Taking the time to be with your neighbors and really listen to them- that’s how you break down barriers.”