By Emily Pollok, The Lancaster News

Since HOPE announced in January that it would be leaving Lancaster Bowling Center, the facility it shares with Christian Services, the nonprofit has been seeking a new home for its senior food pantry and teaching kitchen.
“We turned the city and the county upside down,” HOPE  Executive Director Bekah Clawson said Thursday.
But after she was forced to ask Christian Services for an extension on the move-out date, opportunity came knocking in the form of Eric Funderburk. The business owner from Monroe, N.C., had purchased a property in downtown Lancaster and was looking for someone to lease it.
Clawson said the building, at 305 E. Arch St., is exactly what HOPE was looking for – somewhere safe, comfortable, convenient and easy for clients to find.
“It was just charming,” Clawson said of the 50-year-old building.
HOPE and Christian Services moved into Lancaster Bowling Center together in 2017. But after just 19 months the agencies were beginning to struggle to share the facility due to scheduling conflicts and a lack of space.
While Christian Services, which owns the building, remained at the center, HOPE needed to find a place to relocate the food pantry and teaching kitchen it had established there.
HOPE’s Pageland Highway location, which it leases from the county, is too small to house all the nonprofit’s programs.
“We were just looking for something immediately,” Clawson said. “We are completely relieved.”
As an added bonus, Funderburk said he was willing to renovate the building for HOPE if the nonprofit would sign a three-year lease for the property.
The 1,718-square-foot building is currently being outfitted with electrical outlets, a new bathroom and additional plumbing, heating and air conditioning.
Clawson said she is grateful for Funderburk’s willingness to accommodate HOPE at the new location.
“He has been so kind to us,” she said.
Clawson also noted that everyone who has assisted HOPE with the move has helped to expedite the process as much as possible, preventing the food pantry from being out of service for longer than necessary.
Volunteers from YouthBuild spent this week moving equipment from the bowling center to the new facility on Arch Street.
Clawson also said she is looking forward to the programs having a building of their own.
“We’re excited that we’ll have complete control over our building and its scheduling,” she said.
The new location will also allow HOPE to expand the number of classes it offers at its teaching kitchen, as well as possibly offering another day for its senior pantry, Clawson said.
The pantry currently serves up to 200 seniors, but according to Clawson, there are more who could benefit from an extra day.
HOPE is still looking for a building to house its whole operation so that it can leave the Pageland Highway location, which lacks storage space. Clawson said she has a promising lead.
“We have a really good prospect,” she said.
HOPE’s senior food pantry will reopen at the new location from 9 a.m.-noon May 7.
The Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce will assist with a ribbon cutting for the facility at 11:30 a.m. June 5, followed by a light lunch and tours of the building.