Members of a northwest community got a sneak peak Monday, April 30 as Feeding America Southwest Virginia (FASWV) opened its doors allowing several members of the area (including members of the press) to tour their new facility in northwest.
Among the small contingent of pastors attending the “preview” was Rev. Charles Calloway, pastor Maple St. Baptist Church who in June of 2016, joined several other local ministers at a vigil held outside what was once a troubled night spot to pray for its deliverance.
Now, after a number of meetings with area residents and neighboring Goodwill Industries, nearly 2-years later, on May 23, many who prayed will get their prayers answered as Feeding America will cut the ribbon to the new Community Solution Center, (CSC).
The facility at 2328 Melrose Ave. was once the site of Lowells Restaurant from which soul food and live R&B bands created good vibes and provided many wonderful memories for area patrons.
The original owner, Lowell Reeves sold out in 2008 and the restaurant and club went through several troubling phases over the years mostly from its operation as an after-hours club.
Through the diligent efforts headed by retired Roanoke police captain Rick Morrison, the facility has now been resurrected into a place of hope.
“When you put God first, amazing things can happen,” said Morrison at Monday’s gathering that was all about blessing the newly transformed facility and showing off the center’s various upscale amenities.
“We want the center to be reflective of that time period when it was Lowell’s with good food, good music and good relationships, that’s community,” Morrison added during his comments to the group.
Guiding the tour was FASV president & CEO, Pamela Irvine, who glows with pride when speaking of the new facility.
“It’s all about faithfulness, people and the love we have for others,” said Irvine who knows this project inside and out.
As a key player who has pushed this $1.4 million venture to its fruition, Irvine outlined the 4,000 sq. ft. facility’s major high points.
The culinary arts workforce development training program conducted in a fully refurbished kitchen was high on her list of features mentioned.
The center’s plan is to produce a projected 500 fresh meals per day from the kitchen during the first year of operation. The meals will be distributed to 16 local children’s programs and a food truck.
During her comments, Irvine praised the efforts of John Shoulders, senior VP, business affairs, FASWV for securing much of the facilities furniture and equipment and negotiating the development of a new plaza in front of the building.
Another feature provided is a space for Roanoke City Police Dept. to conduct “positive citizen engagement activities” and youth mentoring programs. All working together to promote FASWVA’s goal to empower citizens through “neighborhood-focused, collaborative partnerships.”
The event culminated as it began 2 years ago, as a circle of pastors, i.e. Rev. Calloway; Rev. Christine Ziglar, Mount Zion AME Church and Rev. David Jones, Williams Memorial Baptist Church and several project heads who joined in prayer–this time to bless the future success of a vibrant and much-needed project.