By Shawn Nowlin
The story behind the new EnVision Center location at 2607 Salem Turnpike becoming a reality features a lot of moving parts, selfless gestures, and community buy-in. Without contributions from all parties involved, the completion celebration Friday, Oct 7 would not have happened.
Among those present at the ceremony were Roanoke Vice Mayor Trish White-Boyd, several council colleagues, and a host of concerned citizens. In about a week, the community center is expected to officially welcome guests.
“The new facility is just a few blocks away from my residence. When I visited the center for the first time, I was in awe of how engaging everyone was,” said local resident Lisa Dunn. “The officials I spoke with said they are ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work and I wholeheartedly believe them.”
Funded primarily through the Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s (RRHA) capital fund, the renovation cost approximately $1 million. Renovation efforts began two years ago, had to stop at the height of the pandemic, then resumed at the start of 2021. The RRHA collaborated with various community organizations to staff the new center which will provide mental health services and educational opportunities to countless individuals.
Everyone can benefit from the physical and mental services that the facility offers. David Bustamante, the RRHA Executive Director, believes the EnVision Center will also significantly help curb community violence.
Greg Goodman, director of RRHA Community Support Services, said the authority has at least a dozen community partners that will provide both full and part-time services. There is a chance, he added, that the center will offer additional services through Carilion Clinic. If it happens, community health workers would work in the center’s telehealth room.
In the coming weeks, Virginia Western Community College will start using the facility, which once belonged to the Melrose Branch Library, to host classes and training sessions while the Family Service of Roanoke Valley and Roanoke Financial Empowerment Center will provide free mental wellness services and offer money management counseling, respectively.
Educating the community on the resources available to them is something Dunn takes tremendous pride in. “One doesn’t have to live in the Lansdowne community to take advantage of these amazing opportunities,” she said before adding, “There are ways to maximize effectiveness and I look forward to helping out in any way that I can.”
For the most up-to-date information, visit rkehousing.org or follow the RRHA Facebook page.