In continuing its efforts to meet human needs without discrimination, The Salvation Army recently opened its new child development center at the southwest corner of Broadway and Alhambra Boulevard.
The $3 million, 14,000-square-foot, two-story, Oak Park area facility replaced a 2,400-square-foot modular building that had housed The Salvation Army’s day care center at the site for the past 24 years. Prior to October 1986, the organization’s day care services had been provided in downtown Sacramento.
Funds for the structure were raised through a diligent, three-year capital campaign and ground was broken for the center last September.
The campaign was led by John Frisch and Diane Mizell, co-chairs for the campaign and other projects of the organization.
In celebration of the new facility, about 100 people attended a grand opening event, which featured a short program, a tour of the facility and refreshments prepared by food crews of The Salvation Army’s shelter on North B Street.
The event, which was held in triple-digit temperatures on Wednesday, June 22, was commenced with an introduction and opening prayer by Maj. Tedd Lowcock, who serves as co-pastor of the Sacramento Citadel Corps of The Salvation Army, along with his wife, Maj. Cindy Lowcock.
During the program, Tedd Lowcock introduced the event’s emcee, Maj. Doug Riley, who expressed his gratification with the new center, which is six times larger than the old education building, which was demolished to provide space for the present center.
“It’s hard to believe that it was just last September when we gathered here with shovels in hand to break ground for this amazing new center,” Riley said. “When looking at this beautiful new building, it’s even harder to imagine the old temporary, modular building that stood on these grounds for more than 20 years. Remember what it looked like? Small, single-story, well maintained by our staff, but a bit tired and woefully out of date for the needs of our children. Now look at what an amazing environment these children will have to learn and grow. And this is just the outside of the building.”
The program, which concluded with a ribbon cutting and a closing prayer by Cindy Lowcock, also included brief speeches by Frisch, Mizell, Panorea Audis from Supervisor Phil Serna’s office, Councilmembers Jay Schenirer and Kevin McCarty, and Keith Hart, who represented Mayor Kevin Johnson’s office.
The event was additionally highlighted by music played by a brass band and the presence of a group of children who would be attending the center.
As a show of appreciation to the donors who helped make the construction of the building possible, the children sang a song as part of the program.
David G. Bentley, director of business services for The Salvation Army’s Del Oro Division, said that one of the highlights in the efforts to have a new child development center constructed at the Alhambra Boulevard site was the accomplishment of acquiring financial assistance in a down economy.
“We started this capital campaign in 2008, when the economy took a nose dive,” said Bentley, who organized the day’s program. “It was a very difficult time to raise money. As (people) look at this building, they are just in awe that we got this thing done, and the children who will be utilizing this facility will have a first-class building for learning opportunities.”
Bentley, who has dedicated 27 years of service to The Salvation Army, added that the completed structure is “absolutely vital” for many local, financially struggling parents and their families.
“These are low income families who utilize this program and in this economy, this (program) is vital for parents who are either single parents or what have you, to go back to school, go for job interviews or even working, for them to have a safe environment for their children to be at while they’re away from them,” Bentley said. “Then with our after school program, schools are cutting left and right, and we’re hoping that we can fill the gap for those children for computer lab, music programs, media programs. We really feel strongly that we have to reach out, especially to that Oak Park community.”
Due to the much greater size of the new center, children, ages 3 to 5, will be able to receive age specific care and instruction.
The center’s day care service, which is licensed through the state of California for 75 children, is provided on the first floor of the building, and is divided into three separate rooms that are designed for 25 children per room. Each room is designated for a specific age of a child.
In the previous structure, children met together in a single room.
The upstairs portion of the building is mainly the site of an after school program for children, ages 6 to 12. The program provides assistance with homework and presents the children with a safe after school environment.
Future plans for the center, which is open weekdays from 6:45 a.m. to 7 p.m., is to add music education programs, a media room and possibly a game room.
The drive to add music education programs to the center is headed by Sonja Stires, the director of programs for the Alhambra Boulevard campus.
Having such programs, Bentley explained, is very beneficial for children who attend schools that no longer have funding to provide similar programs.
The Salvation Army’s Alhambra campus is also home to a community center, a gymnasium with basketball leagues, and a chapel with a congregation of about 175 people who attend services on a weekly basis.
Bentley, who was involved in all stages of the project from its planning and construction to the building’s dedication, said that the new child development center was without question, a great investment for the community.
“A building of this size and of this quality, I believe will stand the test of time and be around, and our programs will serve our community for as long as we are around,” Bentley said.
And Riley emphasized, “It’s not about the building. It’s about the relationships and the opportunities we’re creating.”