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Norwalk Agency Staying Put, For Now

Bill Hallstead routinely carries groceries out to the curb for people, and he's glad to do it even though he's not paid to. There's no charge for the food, either. Hallstead volunteers at Christian Community Action food pantry every Friday. Though he's glad the nonprofit has a home right on a Norwalk Transit bus route, he wonders what happens to the people he helps when they get off the bus with their free food. "God only knows who helps them to carry it," he said. "A 70-year-old lady, carrying all these bags, it's tough."

Proximity to bus stops is great. But that's just one of the specifications making it tough to find a new home for the agency, which is currently in the Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now building on South Main Street. "We have a funky combination of needs," said Executive Director Christi Pope. "We need someplace that has a warehouse-type part with a loading door as well as needing office space. We've got that funky combo. We need to be able to offload furniture and food in bulk from our truck and also have offices and a waiting area, and appropriate pantry space."

The agency was asked to leave the NEON building in December and given a Feb. 28 deadline. Pope hasn't found a new space, but the organization isn't homeless, either. Joe Mann, executive director of NEON, has agreed to let the nonprofit stay for at least two months, allowing Pope more time to find space. "We agreed we'll work with them, whether it's two months or whatever it takes," Mann said. "It was never our intention to do otherwise."

Pope agreed. "We were assured they weren't going to kick us to the curb," she said. So she's still looking, checking out every tip given to her by board members, city staffers and the Norwalk Chamber of Commerce. There was a suggestion that Christian Community Action move to the Wall Street area, but Pope drove around and decided that South Norwalk had a greater need. "It's a whole 'nother level of poverty than anywhere else in this town," she said. "They need us to be in walking distance. So we're still looking."

Are you relieved that Christian Community Action can stay for a while?

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