It was standing room only this past Sunday at Bremerton City Hall when the Salvation Army held a kick-off celebration and groundbreaking for a new hygiene center and Corps Community Center.
The project includes a renovation of the current building (built in 1965) on 6th Avenue, with a new building adjacent to it. A portion of the current facility, built in 1943, will be torn down. The overall space of the new facility will be 16,000 square feet (increased from 8,000 square feet). The facility will include renovated kitchen and dining hall for community meals, food and clothing banks, a hygiene center (shower and laundry facilities for homeless neighbors), case worker offices, classrooms and a church for Sunday services.
Major Jim Baker, who has been an officer with the Salvation Army for 33 years and has spent the last 12 years in Bremerton, said the effort to expand and improve the Salvation Army’s downtown facility has been kicked around since a meeting in 2003. But he said that the idea wasn’t his or anyone else’s.
“It originated in the heart of God, who commands us over and over in the Bible to care for the poor,” Baker told the crowd on Sunday.
Also on hand at Sunday’s event was Olympic gold medalist Nathan Adrian. This past Christmas, Adrian, whose father, Jim, has been involved with the Salvation Army for about 20 years, made the organization his charity of choice. He told the large crowd about his experience of going to a Target store as part of a toy drive to shop for teenagers, a group often overlooked in favor of younger children.
Speaking about his father’s influence, Adrian said, “He’s just always had such a charitable personality and heart. Seeing that always gave me a sense of, ‘I need to give back.’ “
During a groundbreaking ceremony down the street from city hall at the site of the new center, newly elected Congressman Derek Kilmer said that the day was marked by hope and joy. In his brief remarks, Kilmer relayed an anecdote about the famous anthropologist Margaret Mead in which she was asked about how she could determine whether or not a culture was civilized. Her answer was that she knew a culture was advanced when she came across a healed broken femur. Kilmer said that in order for a person with a broken leg to heal, he or she would need the community’s support and nurturing, something that the Salvation Army is all about.
Established in 1920, The Salvation Army Bremerton Corps provides services to needy members of the community. Free breakfast and lunch is offered on weekdays; monthly food boxes are available to those who qualify, and may include government food commodities, diapers and toiletries. Special programs include utility bill assistance, free haircuts, and community voicemail. Holiday programs include holiday meals, food baskets, and toy donations. In 2012, more than 40,000 meals were served by the Bremerton Corps, and more than 3,500 clients participated in social services programs.
While the Salvation Army moves ahead with its expansion, it still needs to raise about $500,000. Donations can be made at the service office, at 832 6th Street in Bremerton, or online at www.SalvationArmyNW.org.