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Erie neighborhood nonprofit moves into former St. John School

By Ed Palattella |   814-870-1813 |  ETNpalattella


The Neighborhood Resource Organization, a nonprofit formed a year ago to help neighborhood groups throughout the city and county, has reached a new stage.

It has moved into the neighborhood.

The NRO has relocated to the ground floor of the former St. John the Baptist School, 509 E. 27th St., in the middle of one of the many inner-city areas the organization serves.

“It was important for us that we be in a neighborhood-based office,” said Dave Deter, the NRO’s director.

The NRO, formed as part of the Unified Erie anti-violence initiative, is to officially open the new offices today at a 9 a.m. news conference. Deter will also unveil a new logo and announce the first recipient of the NRO’s $1,000 “mini grants” for neighborhood organizations, including neighborhood watch groups.

The NRO was at the Mercyhurst University Civic Institute, at East 34th and Wallace streets, which coordinates the social-service plans of Unified Erie.

The NRO had always intended to relocate closer to the inner city, Deter said. He will work out of the new spot with his part-time outreach coordinator, John Villa, a veteran neighborhood watch advocate.

Deter and Villa support neighborhood groups to reduce crime and other problems. The offices will have laptops and other resources for the groups.

The NRO is paying rent with money from a $130,000 grant the Mercyhurst Civic Institute received in 2014 from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, Deter said. The institute in 2014 also received a three-year grant, totaling $214,962, from the Erie Community Foundation, for the NRO.

Erie Police Chief Randy Bowers, a member of the NRO steering committee, called the former St. John School “a great choice.”

“It is centralized, located on the east side, easily accessible,” said Bowers, 61, who, coincidentally, attended the Roman Catholic School as a boy.

The NRO has a well-known neighbor at its new location. On the same floor in the building is the Sisters of St. Joseph Neighborhood Network East.

“It is a great fit,” Bowers said of the nuns. “Everyone knows the value of their presence.”

Deter, who has been in his new office since February, said he met the Sisters of St. Joseph right away, and “we have been working with them ever since.”