OGDEN -- An organization that promotes self-sufficiency among those in need is taking a step for its own self-sufficiency.
United Way of Northern Utah is starting the process of purchasing the building it and a handful of other nonprofit organizations call home.
The agency's board of directors has approved putting down about half of the $1.86 million needed to buy the 22,000-square-foot facility generally referred to as the Red Cross Building, 2955 Harrison Blvd.
"We are currently in the process of meeting with potential funders and applying for grants to help us cover the cost of the building," said Robert Hunter, CEO and president of United Way of Northern Utah.
The building is owned by the Dr. W.C. Swanson Family Foundation, which has leased the facility to its tenants for only the cost of maintenance. United Way moved into the building five years ago.
"We really appreciate the support the Swanson Foundation has given us and the other charities in the building," Hunter said. "We will continue to give other charities in our building the low lease rates."
Hunter said having the building helps his agency support the same critical needs the Swanson Foundation does -- specifically to further charitable, literary, scientific or educational purposes and to prevent cruelty to children and animals.
Hunter said purchasing the facility will allow United Way to financially assist the Swanson Foundation in its mission to serve the community.
Cindy Purcell, president and CEO of the Swanson Foundation, said the decision to sell the building is one example of how the foundation has changed the way it operates.
"Our grant-making has changed over the years," she said. "We are no longer an agency that just writes checks."
Purcell cited a Rainbow Bus reading program the foundation started as an example of her organization going more to the front lines of solving community problems.
"Instead of maybe giving them a check, we'll go out and purchase something," she said of her 12-member staff. "The staff has more of a buy-in with those agencies. We become part of those agencies."
Purcell said the foundation first became involved in renovating the building in the 1990s, when it was owned by the Red Cross.
"They needed to fix the heat and fix the roof," she said, "and they had no money to do that."
The foundation originally gave the Red Cross a $300,000 endowment to help fix the building, she said.
The foundation's dream became to purchase and remodel the then-15-year-old building, she said.
"It became a green building before its time," she said. "There is no natural gas. There is propane only to make the water hotter."
Purcell said the building is heated and cooled by electrically pumping circulated air into the ground, and is easy to maintain.
Hunter said the building is attractive because it is structurally sound and earthquake-resistant. It also is equipped with its own emergency generator and provides space for community meetings.
Besides the United Way of Northern Utah and American Red Cross of Northern Utah, current tenants are Volunteer Engagement Center/2-1-1, Community Grant Center and Foundation Center Cooperating Collections, Intermountain Combined Federal Campaign, Prevent Child Abuse Utah, American Dream Foundation, Small Smiles (a reading resources center) and the High Schools Adult Transition Program.
Hunter said he will seek more nonprofit tenants.
Once United Way officials learned the Swanson Foundation was selling the building, he said, they were interested in buying it because of the site.
"We don't want to leave this location, and we want to protect the other agencies that use it," he said.
The corner of Harrison Boulevard and 30th Street is along two Utah Transit Authority bus routes.
"It's a great place for people to drop off toys, clothing, backpacks and turkeys when we have our drives," he said.
The $900,000 United Way is putting down on the building will come out of a $3 million reserve fund, Hunter said.
Once the money is taken out, he said, the fund will still have enough to finance two years of agency operations. Hunter doesn't want to deplete the fund any more than that for the building.
"We want to be able to cover our costs for two years in case of an emergency," Hunter said.