Hope is Here
Can a building provide hope to a neighborhood?
In 2016, The Salvation Army realized a dream held for many years on the south side of Waltham when it opened the sparkling renovated and expanded Waltham Corps Community Center.
“Before the renovation,” Lt. Thais Viana explains, “We were providing services and programs that shared the love of God with our community. But the building was far from lovely.”
Viana recalls the prior version of HOPE Kitchen. “That was a good name for the program. Because every day when we came in, we hoped the ovens would turn on. We hoped enough burners would work to provide breakfast and lunch to individuals experiencing homelessness and some of our other vulnerable neighbors like seniors on a fixed income..”
The expansion provided much-needed space, especially for Kids FEAST, the after-school program whose acronym stands for Food, Enrichment, Arts, Spiritual Development and Teaching. Aided by volunteers from the community and nearby colleges, the program was limited to 40 students only by available space in the old building. The multipurpose gymnasium built on the back lot at 33 Myrtle Street was an instant hit with the students and the volunteers.
“When the kids come here after school, they need to get some energy out in addition to getting their homework done and getting nutritious snacks and a hearty hot meal for dinner,” Lt. Viana shares. “In the gym, they can run around safely, play games, just be children. That’s really fantastic and now we can serve more of them. That puts a smile on my face.”
Community support, including a brick campaign were critical to being able to turn the well-loved center into a more welcoming environment for all of those served.
“At the end of the day,” Lt. Rafael Viana says, “it isn’t really about the building. Wherever there are people in need, The Salvation Army is there and we will serve. Our mission was and always will be about the people who need our help in this community.”