3726 Grand Blvd.File 2013

Five months after a fire gutted the Helping Hand Thrift Store, the social services organization is still unsure what the future holds for the building at 3726 Grand Blvd. in Brookfield.

The organization’s website states that the thrift store has closed permanently; donations are being directed to Sharing Connections in Downers Grove and The Carousel Shop in LaGrange, according to the website.

While Helping Hand’s executive director, Mary Beth Hepp, didn’t rule out the space once again housing a thrift store, it seems unlikely. But Helping Hand, a nonprofit agency providing services for adults and children with disabilities, won’t be giving up on the Brookfield property it has owned since the 1990.

“We have no intention of leaving the community,” said Hepp.

Asked if the thrift shop might ever open again in the space, Hepp said, “I can’t answer that.” She added that the property was the subject of the agency’s strategic planning process, which its board of directors is undertaking.

“We’re going through strategic planning with our leaders, stakeholders and clients to find out what are the needs of our clients and the needs of the community, to see what is the best way to use the building.”

In the meantime, Hepp said, the building won’t even be ready for use for “more than a year.”

The basement was deluged with five feet of water as a result of heavy rains that flooded parts of Riverside and Brookfield on April 18. The following night a faulty fluorescent light ballast ignited a fire in the thrift store showroom.

Asbestos abatement is currently underway at the building, said Hepp. After that the building will essentially be gutted and brought up to code. When all of the repairs are made, the organization will have a shell that can then be built out to fit any purpose.

“Our overall focus is, what is the best mission for that building,” Hepp said.

The building will remain boarded over while repairs are completed. The colorful paint applied to the panels was the result of a collaboration between art classes at Helping Hand and Community Support Services, which recently opened its CSS Academy just south of the Helping Hand property.