Lancaster Christian Services
Community Facility Loan
Christian Services has served the Lancaster community for more than 35 years and thanks to the purchase and renovation of a bowling alley, they are adding to the long list of critical services they provide. Christian Services serves 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, 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 it. However, the process proved challenging.
“We initially worked together to pursue USDA financing, but Christian Services realized that particular loan wasn’t the right fit for them. To their credit, they stayed true to their vision for their space and saw the process through to the end,” said Brendan Buttimer, SCCLF’s Upstate Community Development Lending Officer.
“Brendan gave us so many good ideas when obstacles arose and worked to understand how we operate. Even though we simply meet needs and provide services, we are a little different. It helped that SCCLF saw that,” said Eric Kramer, Christian Services’ Executive Director.
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.”