CROWN POINT — Sunny skies ushered in a "miraculous" day for the city.
On Thursday afternoon, First United Methodist Church unveiled a new warming and cooling center at 352 S. Main St., which was made possible through public and private collaboration, Senior Pastor Mark Wilkins said.
"I don't want to make this an overstatement, but this moment honestly does feel a little bit miraculous to me," Wilkins said. "Because as a congregation, we never saw this one coming at least when we did."
Wilkins explained the idea for the center came up about a year and a half ago on "one of those typical, January Northwest Indiana days, when the wind comes directly from the Arctic Circle."
The weather, he said, left residents without electricity, and city officials looking for a warm place for residents to go. However, without power or light, the church couldn't become a safe haven.
Over the coming months, Wilkins worked to secure a generator for the church to help people in their "worst of all possible moments."
Initially, Wilkins thought the generator would be a five- to 10-year project for the congregation — "then the miracles started rolling in," he said.
"What I love about this moment is this is what happens when the state, and a great municipality, and a nonprofit can all come together with a common purpose and that purpose, to draw the shortest line possible, is simply to provide light where there is darkness and warm where there is cold," Wilkins said.
The project is a combined effort with Crown Point Emergency Management Agency, the Indiana Office of Energy Development, South Shore Clean Cities and First United Methodist Church, Wilkins said in a release.
The church also received a $35,000 grant through the Indiana Office of Energy Development with help from South Shore Clean Cities, he said.
Crown Point Mayor David Uran said it takes a team effort to make projects such as the warming and cooling center happen.
"Anytime we pick that phone up and we talk to Mark and his team here, if they can't do something, they try to figure out something, how they can do it. It's never no," Uran said.
Uran said the center will be able to help the community when Mother Nature is unpredictable.
"Our tagline is building a strong community from within, and you're seeing that today based on the partnerships and the members that you've mentioned here today," he added.
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