NORTH LITTLE ROCK (KTHV) - A North Little Rock landmark, known for its history of caring for thousands of orphans, sees a rebirth of sorts this summer as the push to revitalize the building takes shape.
THV's Max Seigle is working this story as part of a follow-up to a report he did back in November of 2010. Back at that time, there was a budding effort underway to restore the old St. Joseph Orphanage along Camp Robinson Road. Almost two years later now, a few buds are forming. And while they are not a return to the orphanage, they still share a similar mission.
Some taps at the calculator and workers making copies. They are new sounds in an old place, filling the former St. Joseph Orphanage.
"Just as I walked through this facility, I just saw such awesome opportunity," said William Tollett, Executive Director of the Union Rescue Mission.
It's an opportunity for the Union Rescue Mission: the first tenant to make this historic site home this summer for its administration offices. Working in his new office, Executive Director William Tollett says that it's a perfect match with the building's history.
"We work with hurting people, we work with people that society largely has rejected and we see them restored and purposeful back in life again," Tollett said.
"It's wonderful to drive up and see activity and to have Union Rescue Mission's presence here, it's really brought things back to life," Sandy DeCoursey said.
Sandy DeCoursey is with the St. Joseph Center of Arkansas, Inc. The group took over this building two years ago, on a mission to create a non-profit hub here.
"We would very much like to see a center for non-profits to make things much more manageable for the client to come to a one-stop facility instead of having to go all over town to receive services," DeCoursey said.
Other current activity includes community gardens outside and church religious classes inside.
"On Wednesday, we have a lot of wonderful classrooms here full of vibrant children," DeCoursey said.
It's all giving this place a second chance and hoping to add up to the long history of helping here.
The building, which opened as an orphanage in 1908, also has hosts religious retreats. DeCoursey tells us that they usually happen almost every weekend.
She says there are at least six different feelers out there for new tenants and all non-profits eyeing this place as a possible new home.
The Union Rescue Mission says its plans to expand into more office space this fall with college interns working on social media efforts.
The St. Joseph of Arkansas, Inc. is holding a fundraiser October 6th at 6:30 p.m. at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock. The group will be auctioning off a variety of chairs from the original orphanage, painted by area artists. For more details, call (501) 993-4560 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.