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Same As U, local nonprofit, looks to purchase Faith Community Church, expand opportunities

The pandemic has been difficult. But not everything from the pandemic has been bad. In 2019, shortly before any of us were talking about COVID, a new beginning was occurring.

Same As U, a Hamilton County based nonprofit that serves young adults with developmental disabilities, opened its doors just 9 weeks before the shutdown. In just two years, despite a global pandemic, Same As U has grown over 500% and now serves 48 young adults with disabilities and their families from Hamilton and surrounding counties.

Set in a college-like setting, Same As U meets the needs of these young adults – and their families – who are struggling with the lack of opportunity and lack of purpose that stems from too much time at home, isolated from community and personal growth, after high school. Executive Director Jennifer Sell states that, “We believe these young adults can continue to learn and will embrace opportunities to keep their minds and bodies active. They want to go to college like their peers. They want to know they belong to a community and that their community continues to believe in them and invests in their potential.”

Demand for this program is not slowing down. House in White River Christian Church, Same As U will reach capacity in a few short months.

Meanwhile, just a couple of miles across 191st Street, the members and leadership of Faith Community Church had been engaged in substantiality conversations – particularly in regard to their building.

FCC began in 1998 and had built and moved into their building on Promise Road in 2001. However, since that time, their ministry has evolved and the pandemic has revealed new opportunities for ministry. Faith Community is evolving from an attractional model of inviting and drawing people into their building, programs and services to a model that encourages and empowers its members and friends to serve and be out in and among the community. Thus, the use of their building as a body of believers was seldom called for outside of Sunday mornings.

The pandemic accelerated the decline of traditional participation and engagement among church members nationally. For FCC that meant it was time to sell their building. Patrick Propst, pastor at FCC, remarked that, “We realized we didn’t need a building and it was becoming more and more difficult to afford the expenses that come with owning and maintaining a property. We hoped to sell our building to a nonprofit or community of faith. A group that could come in and utilize the space and serve our community in a unique way while allowing us to continue to minister. We wanted to utilize the generosity of our faith family to go towards serving in practical ways among our neighbors.”

Same As U board member, Reba Cooper, heard about the potential sale of FCC’s building and reached out to the church. This led to a series of meetings between FCC and SAU. Through this process, it was decided this could be a win for both sides. Sell states, “Having our own campus will allow us to expand the program and best serve the students of Same As U. This building is uniquely laid out to be conducive to learning, handicap accessible and provides immediate room for growth. We need more space to be able to accommodate the need.”

Sell and her Board of Directors have begun a capital-raising campaign to purchase the building. They have just over 60% of their $1.5 million goal but are asking for the community to join them in their cause. Raising as much of their goal as possible will allow them to not only welcome new students at the new campus later this year but will also allow them to invest in making necessary modifications to the building to accommodate their programming needs.

As for Faith Community, Same As U will open the building up to FCC to continue meeting on Sunday mornings for their communal worship. “This will allow us to stay in a familiar place, at least for a while. In addition, we hope to see how we can partner with SAU to serve their students and families in ways that help and benefit them,” hoped Pastor Propst.

“I’m excited for the future of both of these community-oriented groups,” said Noblesville Mayor Chris Jensen. “They have worked hard to collaborate, and this arrangement will benefit both of their organizations and the services they provide to our community.”

Same As U has already developed extensive plans for their students and acquiring this forever home would lay the groundwork for making those plans a reality. “Allowing FCC to use the building on Sundays not only made sense but will allow us to partner with Faith Community in new ways to serve our families,” commented Sell. To learn more or donate to Same As U, please visit www.SameAsU.org. Donations can also be mailed to Same As U, 1685 N. 10th Street, Nobklesville, Ind. 46060.