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New addition includes covered outdoor gym

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - The dirt flew at a goundbreaking ceremony last week for the Salvation Armys new Social Services Center.by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Lynn Snodgrass, emcee for the groundbreaking for an expansion to more than double the size of The Salvation Army facility on Southeast 194th Avenue.The Salvation Army broke ground Friday, May 16, on an expansion to its Southeast 194th Avenue facility that will greatly expand services for children and seniors in its low-income neighborhood.

Mayor Shane Bemis, one of the speakers at the groundbreaking, praised Weston Buick Kia, his former employer, for being a major sponsor of the new facility.

“They adopted families for Christmas and employees would interview families to see what they needed,” he said about his time working there. “It might be a new furnace, but the money didn’t matter.”

That same kind of community spirit will be served with the new Salvation Army facility, and Bemis said the need is great.

“There are kids without meals and kids without opportunities,” he said. “We can lock folks up or we can make an investment in our youth.”

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Dignitaries at a groundbreaking for an expanded Salvation Army facility trying to adjust their hardhats. Amy Bogdon, left, of Salvation Army lends a hand to, from left, Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis, Dr. Steven Moore, Lynne Page, Carla Piluso, Jay Weston and Josh Weston.According to the Salvation Army, the services in the current building help about 840 families per month. The expansion will allow the organization to expand its services to 1,260 families, or about 2,835 people per month.

Right now, the Social Services Center serves meals to between 50 and 60 children each day, a number that will increase by 400 percent with the new building. Also at present, about 150 senior citizens get baskets of healthy food once a month. The expansion will let the center go to weekly food baskets and increase to 550 people served.

by: CONTRIBUTED: THE SALVATION ARMY - This is an artists rendering of the expansion - now under way - of The Salvation Army facility in Rockwood.The new Social Services Center addition will expand program space from the existing 9,378 square foot building to 22,543 square feet, an increase of 240 percent.

The center will house a new commercial kitchen, 100-seat dining room, increased food storage and food distribution areas, a food pantry where people can actually shop, offices for case management and family services and a covered outdoor gym.

In a press release, the Salvation Army spelled out what the new facility will mean.

“The increase of over 13,000 square feet will mean The Salvation Army can feed many more people through feeding programs and food boxes and offer more varied recreational activities for underprivileged youth,” it reads. “It will also significantly increase the senior program, which is desperately needed as there are thousands of seniors living on fixed incomes and relying upon food stamps in the immediate area.”

Speakers at the groundbreaking also included emcee Lynn Snodgrass and former Gresham police chief Carla Piluso.

Snodgrass told the crowd of about 80 people that $1.5 million has been raised so far, but more is needed. She encouraged those present to contribute to the effort.

“It’s sad to build walls and not have tables and chairs and it’s hard to build a gym and not have basketball hoops,” she said.

Donations are still needed for furnishings, including kitchen equipment, tables and chairs, recreational equipment and basketball hoops and benches. Donors can also buy a brick or tile that will go at the entrance of the Family Services Center and bear the donor’s name. To learn more call 503-661-8972.

“The current space in which The Salvation Army in Gresham operates is bursting at the seams,” said Teresa Steinmetz, director of communications and marketing for The Salvation Army Portland Metro.

“It is because the need is so high in the Rockwood area of Gresham. In fact, more than 90 percent of the students in the two closest elementary schools... Receive free or reduced lunches. The families in the community need this,” she said.

Piluso called the groundbreaking “a day to rejoice” and also stressed the need.

“This is a place where kids can learn the right values and self-esteem through music and athletics and develop inner strength through a tremendous youth program and seniors citizens can get healthy food baskets and develop relationships,” she said.

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