White Center brings hope to community

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by Jena Hubbard – 

The White Center neighborhood, in southwest Seattle, Wash., is notorious for drug and gang activity and has become Seattle’s poster-child for a neighborhood in need of a makeover. Recent media stories report a spike in the crime rate and the creation of a multi-agency task force to address the problem.

What many don’t know is that another “task force” has been quietly—yet diligently—working in White Center for over 50 years: The Salvation Army’s White Center Community Center. The efforts of the Army’s task force, however, were focused on remaking the spirit of the White Center neighborhood and restoring hope in the lives of people who believed they had very little to hope for.

Twelve years ago, planning began for a remodel of the community center to increase its efficiency and capacity to serve more young people and senior citizens. The plan soon turned into the largest capital fundraising project ever undertaken by the Northwest Division. It was aptly named The HOPE Capital Campaign.

On May 23, 2004, The Salvation Army’s White Center Community Center was dedicated to the honor and glory of God by Western Territorial Commander Commissioner Linda Bond. As part of the new facility, The Salvation Army was also honored to dedicate The Cort Mead Memorial Gym in loving memory of Cort, son of Herb Mead, friend and supporter of The Salvation Army. Divisional Commander Lt. Colonel Terry Griffin also read a letter written by advisory board member Bob DeLappe commending corps officers Majors Maynard and Kathy Sargent for their hard work.

Generations of kids have played on the well-worn gym floor—shooting hoops and playing dodge ball. Future generations have the continued opportunity to participate in league and drop-in sports like basketball and volleyball, in the new state of the art gym. Hope is written on the smiling faces of these children as they run across the gym floor or as they read a favorite story in the new homework center. Even better is the look of hope on the parents of the children, who now have the tools to help their children escape the cycle of poverty.

Senior citizens continue to receive a hot meal every day in the new and expanded senior center, now capable of serving 100 seniors daily. The larger and more efficient food pantry will help families on the edge of hunger to stock their shelves with nutritious food for another day and continued assistance with the very basic of human needs will continue through our social service programs.

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