Batavia First United Methodist Church volunteers John Fox, Sandy Kramer and Grace West spent time Tuesday setting up the church's new walk-in mission dubbed "Umtoo," on the corner of Ellicott and Liberty streets in Batavia.
"Umtoo," according to church pastor Pam Klotzbach, is a cryptic re-spelling of "UM-two," which stands for "United Methodist two."
Klotzbach said Umtoo will be a place for the unemployed, homeless and underprivileged of Batavia's Southside to come and enjoy free coffee, tea, juice, wrapped food, fellowship, conversation, games such as checkers, and also get help with computer skills, job hunting, homework, laundry and other needs.
For those unsure of how to get the assistance they need in other areas, Umtoo will provide referrals and even, in some cases, make calls on their behalf.
They also hope to start a weekly Bible study in the next couple months, as well as informal worship services.
"Our intention is to show Christ to people in a non-threatening way," Kramer said, adding that they plan on getting to know the people and then tailoring their approach to the needs of the community.
Klotzbach had this in mind when she first introduced the idea.
Previously a pastor in Fillmore, Klotzbach was moved to Batavia by the Upper New York State Conference of the United Methodist Church. The Conference assigned her to the local church at 8221 Lewiston Road after seeing how involved she was during her pastoral tenure in Fillmore. She was not afraid to roll up her sleeves and get her hands dirty.
"(The church) got bounced out of the City of Batavia during the urban renewal days," Klotzbach said. "It used to be near the YMCA. Without sidewalks near us or buses (for transport), we have to come to where the people are."
She has been amazed at the eagerness and generosity of church members, who have put a lot of time and effort into building up and preparing Umtoo.
Umtoo will host its grand opening for the public on Friday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Coffee, tea and snacks will be provided, along with entertainment from Will and Julio. It shares a space with "Amy's Fluffy Friends" pet grooming parlor at 238-240 Ellicott St.
Mission hours will be:
Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.
Friday through Saturday, 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.
Sunday, noon until 5 p.m.
Call 343-4708, ext. 11, for more information.