Building Bigger

Care and Feeding of Our Neighbors

MCW provides transitional housing & services to homeless women/children with dignity & integrity.

In 2019 Mercy Center for Women purchased the former Holy Rosary School, located in an At Risk Area as identified by a 2016 City of Erie Comprehensive Plan. The building is nearing completion as the Mercy Anchor Community Center, containing 13 apartments for homeless and low-income women and children, Dress for Success Erie, a food pantry, thrift store, community room with computer access, health services and day care. As an added feature of the complex, a community vegetable and meditation garden will be installed in a large green space adjacent to the building. The neighborhood includes low to moderate income households of all ages, racial and ethnic backgrounds who will welcome a source of fresh fruits and vegetables. The meditation garden will provide a peaceful, tranquil place for neighbors to get acquainted. The people in the nearby homes are especially vulnerable to the rapidly rising cost of living. We anticipate that this project will encourage further improvement in the area.

Projected cost to complete the gardens is $38,375. We have received $12,000 from the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority. The State Farm grant would nearly cover the remaining cost. The project includes the Meditation Garden professionally installed by a local landscaping company and will include paver walkways, raised perennial flower and shrub beds with retaining walls, 3 trees and teak benches. A colorful mural painted by award-winning artist Antonio Howard and his team will be installed on the brick wall overlooking the gardens. The vegetable garden segment includes raised beds, all garden tools needed and a shed in which to store them. The Penn State Master Gardeners have agreed to assist both in construction and ongoing education classes in gardening and nutrition, to be held in the community room of the Mercy Anchor Community Center. We have an active volunteer base including community service volunteers, ServErie, school and church groups, all of whom will help as needed.

This placemaking grant will be a permanent oasis in the neighborhood for the 13 families who will live in the Mercy Anchor Community Center apartments, parishioners of Holy Rosary Church, clients of The Refuge (a nearby family emergency shelter), food pantry recipients, residents of Mercy Center for Women and neighbors. The gardens will complete the MCW campus which includes the transitional housing program and will complement the Holy Rosary Church and Rectory grounds which occupy the remainder of the block to the west. It is anticipated that the gardens will be a catalyst to encourage investment in improving their homes. Father John Jacquel of Holy Rosary Church says this, “I think it would be a great spot for a nicely constructed vegetable and/or flower garden, especially with raised boxes. It would be a great use for that space.” The garden will be handicap-accessible, as is the Mercy Anchor Community Center where ongoing educational classes will be held.

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