New Beckley Salvation Army Community Center to soon open its doors

BECKLEY, W.Va. — After holding a groundbreaking ceremony for Beckley’s new Salvation Army Corps and Community Center back in 2022 when it was just an empty plot of land, it’s now shaping up to be a several thousand square foot, state-of-the-art facility that’s set to open up by early April.

The new center will be located along Robert C. Byrd Drive. Salvation Army Captain in Beckley, Liz Blusiewicz told MetroNews that the multi-million facility will allow the Salvation Army to expand all of its charity and community services it provides to the area, as well as add on new ones.

Blusiewicz said in addition to providing the community with the Salvation Army’s normal services that include utility and rental assistance and their emergency food pantry, she said they also are trying to expand the food pantry and case management services, as well as provide a multi-faceted after school program for area youth.

She said they are trying to set up the first ever Choice Food Pantry in Raleigh County where clients will be able to walk in to the center and pick out their own groceries rather than being given food boxes with items pre-selected by Salvation Army workers.

Blusiewicz said more in-depth case management will be another major feature of the center, where clients will be able to sit down and speak with qualified agents about financial issues, employment, among other life issues.

“They will be able to get the help that they need, but it will allow us also to have that deeper conversation of why are you experiencing financial hardship right now, how can we help you prepare a resume or land that job interview, you know, simple things like that, we will now be able to have this space to offer these things to the community,” she said.

She said the entire front side of the building will be dedicated to social services and direct community-client services of this kind.

The Salvation Army will also be getting its Boys and Girls Club underway at the new center as soon as they are settled in, Blusiewicz said. They partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of America to offer after-school programs and care to at-risk youth in the community.

She said any student in K-12 who might be experiencing problems at home or at school and who needs extra resources and a safe place to go, the program is for them. She said it’s meant to help area youth in a variety of different ways.

“We want to provide basically that after-school program that feeds them, it gives them homework help, we call it Power Hour, we also want to give them emotional support, a lot of at-risk youth have a hard time expressing emotions,” Blusievicz said.

She said their staff is equipped to help kids work through difficult emotions they may be feeling. Blusiewicz said the program is ultimately meant to break down the barriers that come with generational poverty through education, physical fitness, healthy eating, another other positive factors.

Senior classes and a number of other various fitness classes will also be offered within the center’s 9,000 square foot gymnasium, Blusiewicz said. In addition, she said it will be a space to hold basketball leagues to practice in, as well as volleyball and pickleball teams, and a location for other various teams.

However, Blusiewicz said more than anything the new Salvation Army center will be a place for open dialogue where multiple community needs can be addressed, a place that’s been cultivated from the ground up as a reflection of the community for the community, she said.

“We want our community to know that the Salvation Army is here to meet whatever that need is,” Blusiewicz said. “Right now it’s obviously food, utility, after-school care, but we want to always have our finger on the pulse of what that community need is and we want to be able to adapt to that.”

Next year is the Salvation Army of Beckley’s 100th anniversary. Blusiewicz said stepping in to lead an organization with such a huge, lasting legacy is very humbling.

“I think, you know, those folks who started the work here back in 1925 probably had no idea that 100 years later we would be building a state-of-the-art facility to serve our neighbors, and I think the Beckley community knows that when times get tough, the Salvation Army is there,” she said.

She said the Salvation Army has a rich history of serving the community whether through floods or other natural disasters, or throughout a global pandemic, and the new center will only facilitate even further their legacy of serving.

“Because, we want the community know that we can be trusted, we’re going to be there, we’re going to show up, and we’re going to bring the highest quality programming possible with the resources that we have,” said Blusiewicz.

The Salvation Army had been serving at its former Beckley location at 312 South Fayette Street for 84 years.

After being in the works for several years, the new community center is set to officially open between the last week of March and the first week of April.

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