The Salvation Army Lockport is launching a capital campaign to finance a major expansion that will double the size of its City of Lockport site.
The organization, currently housed in 13,000 square feet at 50 Cottage St., will add another 7,000 square feet at a cost of $3 million.
Plans call for moving its soup kitchen, adult programming and administrative operations into the new space, while reconfiguring the existing facility to provide expanded programming for youth.
“Our recent program study says Lockport needs a community center for the kids — specifically kids living in poverty. So we’re working toward that,” says Major John Wheeler, commanding officer at the organization.
The expansion plan has been underway for about two years, with about $1.5 million in funds already committed from both private foundations and individual donors. The agency will announce details April 11 at its annual civic luncheon.
Plans call for starting the project this May with a new roof on the existing building, followed by renovations and improvements in the rest of the space this summer. By fall, pending the outcome of the campaign and approvals from the city, the agency hopes to break ground on the expansion.
About 60-70 youth are currently served by the agency, with elementary age children coming in during the after-school hours for homework help, athletics in the gym and crafts. In the evening, the demographic shifts to middle and high school age youth to visit the TV room, the gym or for games.
“We have schools in Lockport asking if we can take more kids in, but we don’t really have space at the moment,” Wheeler says.
The Lockport corps is part of the international Salvation Army movement, a faith-based organization with 7,800 centers around the world. Operating on a budget of about $600,000, the Lockport organization has seven full and part time employees and hundreds of volunteers who help supervise programs and provide a variety of services, including nutrition, education and social services support.
Other enhancements included in the expansion include adding shower facilities and an exercise room, a spectator space in the gym, as well as additional education space for life skills programming. A new entrance will be added on the Walnut Street side of the building for adult services, with youth programming have its own entrance on Genesee Street. The sanctuary entrance will remain on Cottage Street.
Services currently offered for adults include emergency services, worship services and Christian education, alcohol and drug treatment, community recreation and education, food and nutrition and counseling.
The Salvation Army is not alone in its goal to provide expanded services: The Greater Lockport Family YMCA has raised $6.3 million toward an $11.5 million capital campaign of its own to build a new, larger facility in the Town of Lockport to replace its downtown Lockport facility. Wheeler says the Salvation Army’s expanded programming for youth will complement existing services.
“I see it as complementary,” he says. “We work with a different population of people, offering slightly different services. Our real goal is one-on-one with these kids to help them come up with dreams for their lives and try to do better in what they’re living in now. We consider the whole operation a draw to get them in to work with them.”
This article first appeared in Buffalo Business First, by Tracy Drury on April 8, 2011. Link ⇒