The Helping Hands Health and Wellness Center will need plenty of helping hands when the free clinic moves in November from the only home it has ever known.

"We will rely heavily on volunteer power to help us pick up and move into the new space," Executive Director Sarah Gray said last week.

The decision by Ascension Lutheran Church officials to put the Haimerl Center, 1421 Morse Road, up for sale means Helping Hands needs to relocate, Gray said.

Church members, led by the clinic's first executive director, Joyce Bourgault, founded the faith-based service at the Haimerl Center in April 2007.

"Haimerl has been a good and faithful home for us for 11 years, but with the building for sale, it's time to find a new home," Gray said.

The new home, courtesy of some providential timing, will be in what had been a preschool in a wing of Epworth United Methodist Church, 5100 Karl Road.

"It has been in existence for over 30 years, and since that time, many, many more day cares have opened in the neighborhood and so we were no longer meeting a need," said the Rev. Jennifer Casto of Epworth United Methodist. "It came to a natural end."

After months of rumors, Ascension Lutheran's congregation decided to sell the Haimerl Center in May. Gray said she began contacting other Northland churches in search of a new site.

"It's funny," said Dr. Nancy Henceroth-Gatto, president of the Helping Hands board of directors. "Nobody ever worried. We were never worried about it. Seriously. We have sort of this motto, 'God is good all the time.' We never sweated about it."

Shortly after hearing from her colleague at Ascension Lutheran, the Rev. Tim Muller, about the proposed sale, Casto said she met Gray, and they began discussing Epworth offering space for the clinic.

"Fortunately, she was very interested," Gray said.

"We are committed to welcoming, nurturing and serving the Northland area, and doing so with the love of God," Casto said. "Helping Hands has a very similar mission. Because of our shared mission and our concern for people in the community, especially those who are vulnerable, it seemed like a natural fit."

"We're consolidating our resources," Muller said regarding the sale of part of the church property. "We're not as large a congregation as we used to be. Now it's difficult for us to manage it without resources"

Ascension Lutheran purchased the former Columbus Metropolitan Library branch about 20 years ago, the pastor said.

Money derived from the sale, Muller said, will help pay for some deferred maintenance at the church building.

"We also don't have any audio-visual system in our sanctuary, so we want to be modernizing," he said. "We want to be able to help keep this side going. Our parking lot needs some work, that's for sure."

The 9,000-square-foot building, constructed in 1970, sits on 0.81 acre, according to the website of NAI Ohio Equities, which is handling the sale.

The asking price is $775,000.

"We've had quite a bit of interest in the property from a variety of users," said Bob Monahan, commercial real-estate agent with NAI.

"What its end use is going to be is hard to determine at this point."

It almost will certainly require a rezoning, said Dave Paul, chairman of the Northland Community Council development committee.

"Given that the property is currently zoned (apartment residential) and has been since 1966, virtually any use except a place of worship or affiliated uses will require rezoning," he wrote in an email. "Ascension ... has only avoided this for their use as a banquet and event space, and clinic because it was associated with the church, which can be located in any residential district, as can a library, the building's previous use."

Helping Hands will stay at the Haimerl Center through the end of October, Gray said.

The office will move to Epworth on Nov. 1, she said, and the date for the first clinic at the new site will be Nov. 15.

"Now where we're going, we're going to have weekly clinic, every Thursday if it's not a holiday," Henceroth-Gatto said. "It's a permanent space. Now we have this space for education and other programs, so I just think it's such a gift."

"Helping Hands was founded on faith," Bourgault, who retired as executive director in May 2016, wrote in an email. "Its strength and support comes from that faith in God. It will continue in its commitment to serve people in need based on this faith wherever it is."

kparks@thisweeknews.com

@KevinParksTW1