By Ray Brewer
Volunteers are working to complete a $1 million renovation to the Michael Briggs Center in Manchester so it can continue to offer a positive place for children to gather.
The goal is to raise $100,000 to help make the project a success. Officials said a lot of work has to be done to the building before the project build-out can be finished in May.
“This is a big, giant, white elephant-type of building,” Lt. Brian O’Keefe said. “Kids don’t even know what goes on in here.”
How to help: Donate to Michael Briggs Center project
The Manchester Police Athletic League’s Briggs Center will undergo a complete renovation, transforming a building built in 1910 into a state-of-the-art youth center. Those charged with making it happen gathered for their weekly meeting Friday morning.
“We have just a great group of people who are coming in, donating their time and just figuring out how to get the project done,” said Karen Van Der Beken of Building on Hope, a nonprofit that undertakes building and renovation projects for other nonprofits.
It will cost about $1 million to transform the building, which would be impossible without donations. This is the Building on Hope’s fourth project.
Designer Emma Carole Paradis of Impeccable Nest is donating her time and talent. She was working on redoing the boxing room, although she admitted that her boxing knowledge is limited.
“I’ve been watching a lot of movies,” she said. “We just saw ‘Creed’ and ‘Rocky’ to at least familiarize myself with the boxing scene.”
As she walked around, she could see her vision taking shape.
“We’re planning on bringing in some street artists to create murals all along the walls and messages of positivity,” she said.
Police said 8,500 children within a mile of the center are considered at risk.
“Some of these kids come from broken homes, and it’s hard for them to find out what programs exist,” O’Keefe said.
All the programs offered at the center are free, and O’Keefe said its mission is about getting children to make healthy decisions that can pay off down the road.
“Because if you don’t start them young, then they go down the wrong road, and that’s where the drug use and abuse and things like that take place,” he said.
Anyone interested in helping can learn more about the project and make a donation at the Building on Hope website.