...but may be forced to leave downtown
© Eric Sparling – Amherst Daily News
James Bell says Drop Inn’s retail location isn’t making any money. Their plan is to close shop and move to Maccan.
AMHERST – The numbers aren’t adding up.
Drop Inn Ministries isn’t making money at their 1 West Victoria St. location, according to their representative, James Bell.
“It’s just not financially feasible,” said Bell. “All we’re doing is paying the rent.”
He said it’s been that way since January. He credits the landlord for trying to make the arrangement work, but change is on the horizon. If something doesn’t happen, the ministry will spend June moving to a property they own in Maccan, where outreach will continue, and goods will be sold from a barn.
The West Victoria Street location is a retail outlet selling goods as a fundraiser for mission work. Drop Inn Ministries is an international agency that began in Northern Ireland. They came to Canada initially to fundraise, but saw a need here to start a project to help locals.
“We’re in Haiti,” said Bell, as well as Southeast Asia after the tsunami and Rwanda after the genocide. But not in downtown Amherst soon.
“I want to see what the community thinks about it,” he said. He’s concerned that people won’t care until they’re gone. He’s open to ideas from the public about saving the current location.
Bell thinks there’s a “lot of denial” in Amherst about the prevalence of poverty and the social issues often correlated to poverty. There are people in this town on the edge of a downward “spiral,” and people already in the spiral, according to Bell. He said he’s seen children that don’t have enough to eat. And he thinks the broader community could make a difference if it got more involved.
Drop Inn Ministries does not give away money. They will help with everything from providing furnishings to giving someone a drive. They receive referrals from social services, and also operate Little Lambs daycare. One service Bell would like to see instituted is an intervention program to help families in crisis – to fix home relationships before young people choose to run away permanently.
“We’ll not be out of the area,” said Bell. But if someone has a compelling case for Drop Inn staying downtown, the clock is ticking: doors shut at the end of May.