2012-01-06 / Community

Empty School To Glistening Community Center

By Nicholas Briano


A few of the volunteers working on the building this Tuesday. A few of the volunteers working on the building this Tuesday. The Broad Channel community fought tooth and nail for the Diocese of Brooklyn to keep St. Virgilius School open, but in 2006 due to low enrollment numbers, the ax finally dropped and the building was left vacant and shuttered for years thereafter.

With a new year, however, comes new life for the building as a group of volunteers kicked off 2012 working around the clock to transform the former Broad Channel Catholic school to a community center. The renovations included cleaning out the building, installing drop ceilings, painting and new floors, to start. The construction was made possible by private donations in the forms of goods, services and monetary donations.

A leadership group of volunteers from the non-profit organization Personal Dynamics is responsible for bringing the center to life. Personal Dynamics is a New York based leadership development organization that offers life oriented and career-focused workshops in and around New York City.

Dubbed by them as the Legacy Project, their work began just last week with plans of handing over the center to the church at its completion this week. Volunteers from the Legacy Project say the center will be used for just about anything from meetings, community gatherings, civic matters, recreation and a senior center. To get the room ready for the ribbon-cutting they have also expanded rooms by removing dividing walls and have installed new light fixtures. In addition to the other improvements, the bathrooms and plumbing have been refurbished and with the help of some of their more artistic volunteers, the group is also creating a mural on one of the walls.

“Everyone at the church is really excited about this idea when we told them. The funding for this came from fundraising and donations. The people in the community have been great to us ever since we got here,” Volunteer Lori McKeon said.

The St. Virgilius parish members, she says, were ecstatic when they heard the news. One Broad Channel resident even handed them a check for $100 on the spot to put towards the community center’s renovations. Local businesses have chipped in as well serving the volunteers lunch and providing them with key supplies to get the job done.

The group intends to further furnish the community center building with a media room that will have new computers and a television/DVD player to provide entertainment or informational presentations as needed.

“We feel this Community Center can strengthen not only the church population but the surrounding community as well. This project is important to us, not only because the Center will be used for multiple community-based projects and gatherings, but also because we believe the Center will make a lasting impact on greater society,” the group said collectively in a statement.

For more information about the project or to make a donation visit http://lp89legacy.wordpress.com or contact Fundraising Captain Vlad Gutin at 917-597-0508.

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