Salvation Army’s Facility Testament To Local Partnerships

Lights come on as you enter a room, toilets flush automatically and neighborhood kids have two gymnasiums to consider - the one for basketball or the one with 30 computer stations. Suffolk's latest community asset - The Salvation Army Physical Health and Education Center on Bank Street - opens Tuesday.

Robert Harrell, project chairman and treasurer of The Salvation Army Suffolk Corps advisory board, undertook the $3 million project in 2006, expecting the 22,000-square-foot facility to be completed in 36 months. It took a little longer than expected for Harrell to oversee the purchase of the land, work with zoning regulations, raise the capital, write grants, review site plans and forge numerous community partnerships.

"Two things that I insisted on from the very beginning," he said, holding up two fingers, "that not one penny would come from state, local or federal governments, and, as much work as possible be done in Suffolk." He concludes proudly: "We have done it all at home."
Plaques mounted in the halls read like a Who's Who of Suffolk; more than half of the financial contributions were from local foundations. Other donations came from numerous area organizations, corporations and citizens.

In additional to raising contributions and donations, Harrell worked to establish more than two dozen local partnerships to help with nutritional, health and enrichment programs.
"The greatest of individual gifts will be the 1,500 volunteers," Harrell said.
"This site will transform this community," he said

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