The former St. Anne Church rectory at 925 N. Duke St. is getting a new lease on life, thanks to a sequence of events that parish council chairwoman Chris Whalen credits to “the divine work of God.”

This Saturday, a dedication will mark its new role as the home of Your Six Veteran Services.

Less than a year ago, the parish could see no future for the building, a brick and stone house dating to the 1920s.

After years of deferred maintenance, it needs repairs estimated to cost more than $200,000. Catholic Charities uses some of the space, but it’s otherwise vacant.

Parking is limited. Additionally, parish officials saw little chance of finding a tenant whose use for the building would fit in with the other activity at the St. Anne campus — including classes at St. Anne School and the parish’s charity lunch program, which serves about 120 people a day. 

So the parish and the Harrisburg Diocese applied to Lancaster’s Historical Commission last year for permission to demolish the building. In September, the commission voted to recommend denial.

Whalen recalled thinking at the time, “God, I don’t know what else to do.”

Enter Edward Poorman, a former Marine sergeant who founded Your Six last year.

The nonprofit serves participants in Lancaster County Veterans Court, a voluntary treatment court for veterans who have run into trouble with the law. Upon completion of a rigorous program of treatment, plus appropriate restitution, participants can have charges or penalties reduced, dismissed or expunged. 

With programs that minister to their mind, body and spirit, Your Six gives the veterans a safe place to recover and “build up their total health,” Poorman said.

The name stands for mutual support: It refers to the 6 o’clock position in a military formation; that is, the soldier who “has your back.”

‘Wonderful metaphor’

Poorman is going through Veterans Court himself, and is scheduled to graduate in June. He heard about the rectory and contacted the parish for a tour. It fit the vision he had in mind.

So the building will become Your Six’s outreach center. The programs planned there include mental health counseling, addiction recovery, physical therapy and exercise classes.

Your Six will take occupancy July 1. Instead of paying rent, the organization will fix up the building.

Poorman sees the arrangement as a “wonderful metaphor” for Your Six’s mission.

“We’re going to restore it to its former glory,” Poorman said, “the same as (Your Six’s) programs will do” for its participants.

The agreement with the parish, renewable yearly over 10 years, calls for Your Six to provide $1,000 a month in in-kind services. With all the work that’s needed “there’ll be a lot of prepaid rent,” Whalen said.

The renovations will be based on plans provided pro bono by Sims Architects, Poorman said.

Many other organizations and individuals have pitched in, too, he said, expressing gratitude for the “tremendous outpouring of help from the community.”

Catholic Charities, meanwhile, plans to move out. It’s looking for a new location that will better serve its needs, Assistant Executive Director Peter Biasucci said.

Whalen said the parish is “honored and humbled to be able to give back to our veterans.”

Your Six’s programs and target population mesh with the parish’s mission and activities. Many of the programs will occur after the school day ends, so parking won’t be an issue.

“All the pieces just fit perfectly together,” she said.

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