New Community Resource Center Aims to Heal Wounds of the Past

Jun 26, 2017

Local police officers, community leaders and Feeding America officials break ground on the site of a future community resource center in Roanoke.
Credit Da'Jah Jones / RADIO IQ

Construction on a new community center that will help provide meals for kids during the summer months is underway in Roanoke. It's thanks to an unusual effort of cooperation between police, a non-profit, and city officials.

The 2300 block of Roanoke’s Melrose Avenue is a piece of ground with a bit of a checkered past.

“I found myself more so than not on weekend nights at 2 ‘clock in the morning out on this exact property handling large crowds, fights, disorder, shootings, stabbings, drugs; we worked with city officials to get it closed down and it would just open back up again a few months later.”

That’s Roanoke City Police Captain Rick Morrison, who wanted to see the property turned into something that would benefit the local community. He began compiling a team to research just how to accomplish that.

That team approached Feeding America Southwest Virginia, which plans to create a “Community Solutions Center” on the property. On Monday, Feeding America, police officers and city officials broke ground.

Pamela Irvine, Feeding America’s president and CEO, says that once the facility is complete, it will help improve the quality of life in Northwest Roanoke:

“And so now, we are in the process of drawing up the plans and we will be bidding out the work and it will begin and we will be open next summer at this time to provide meals for children during the summer, and workforce development training and food certification for individuals.”

The group gained funding for the project through a number of sources, including community development block grants from the city and a $350,000 gift from grocery chain Food Lion.