by Merri Bennett

Breaking ground for a new corps in Niles, Mich., are (l to r): Niles Mayor Nick Shelton, Great Lakes Divisional Commander Lt. Colonel Steve Merritt, Niles Township Supervisor Marge Durmhiatt, Niles Corps Officers Majors Jodi and Nic Montgomery, Advisory Board Chair Margie Hadsell, Abonmarche Architect Arvin Delacruz, Territorial Secretary for Business Administration Lt. Colonel David Harvey, and Gareth Troyer of DJ Construction.

When Majors Nic and Jodi Montgomery began leading the Niles, Mich., Corps in June 2021, everyone they met—in restaurants, stores, the library, and even on the street—asked, “When are you going to build that building?”

For several decades services have been provided from the current building, a former church, but due to its age and condition the building has become obsolete. Stairs in the non-handicap accessible, two-level facility are deteriorating, which makes serving seniors especially unsafe.

The majors knew something had to be done. They began working to reinvigorate a previous fundraising campaign. Thanks to several anonymous donors and foundations, they reached the goal of $3.8 million late last year.

On March 19, Majors Nic and Jodi welcomed community leaders and dignitaries to a groundbreaking ceremony. It was a blustery first day of spring, but the excitement was palpable.

“After more than 15 years of patience and hard work, today is the day we begin to build that building…A new facility allows us to build a pathway of hope and dignity for our neighbors in Southeast Berrien and Cass counties,” said Major Nic. “It’s been such a long journey for our donors. We couldn’t have done it without them.”

After working with architects at Abonmarche, DJ Construction was selected for the project. Due to inflation, the size and scope of the building is modest, multifunctional and practical for current and future needs.

It will include a commercial kitchen to use for the corps’ hot lunch program, a dining room for meals with fellowship, and flexible spaces that foster education and can host multiple community venues. Plans also include a client-choice food pantry, community vegetable garden, warehouse storage for large donations, administration and social services offices, and a chapel.

 

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