Despite the overcast sky and intermittent rain, the atmosphere was celebratory as The Salvation Army officially broke ground on its new Freedom Center at Christiana and Chicago avenues in Chicago’s West Humboldt Park neighborhood.
The event unveiled the plans for the new center, and featured inspirational client stories and well wishes from community, city and state government officials. Members of The Salvation Army Brass Ensemble, the Harbor Light Center Choir and the Harbor Light Hip-Hop Worship Dance Team performed at the event.
“There’s probably not a single project across the city or the state that has the potential to make a greater impact on so many people’s lives and so many societal issues,” said Lt. Colonel Ralph Bukiewicz, Divisional Commander for The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division. “An investment in this project is an investment in the future, with a strong return by saving taxpayer dollars spent on the high costs of incarceration, unemployment and health care.”
The programs and services based on the six-acre campus will focus on addressing the serious issues of violence prevention, crime reduction, homelessness and unemployment. The corps community center that will anchor the new campus is expected to serve an estimated 22,500 people each year.
The Freedom Center will be home to:
- A new Salvation Army corps community center, offering educational, recreational, arts and after-school and summer programs for youth, as well as social services and Sunday worship for local families and seniors
- The Salvation Army Harbor Light Center, which provides drug and alcohol rehabilitation services
- A transitional jobs program
- Pathway Forward, The Salvation Army’s community-based corrections program
- The Salvation Army Mobile Feeding and Outreach program, which serves the entire city
The new Freedom Center campus reclaims a former industrial site and will transform an entire city block with improvements that include environmental remediation. The campus will consist of several interconnected masonry clad structures with beautifully landscaped courtyards and will be in keeping with the aesthetic of the mixed residential and retail neighborhood surrounding it.
To view photos from the event, click here.
To learn more about the Freedom Center, and view the video, click here.