New Center of Hope Equips Army to Confront Social Issues in Birmingham

The Salvation Army of Greater Birmingham, Alabama, celebrated the opening of the new Center of Hope with a building dedication ceremony Oct. 4. After 50 years in the same location, The Salvation Army is moving to a new location located less than two miles from the old facility.

The Center of Hope is a 4.1-acre campus consisting of four interconnected buildings totaling 110,000 square feet. The Center of Hope is primarily funded by the Building Hope Capital Campaign initiative, which raised $15.6 million. The capital campaign was led by campaign co-chairs Jim Gorrie, Wayne Gillis and Carl Jernigan, who serve on the Birmingham Advisory Board.

Colonel Ralph Bukiewicz, chief secretary for the Southern Territory, dedicated the building, and Majors Stephen and Wendy Morris, Alabama-Louisiana-Mississippi divisional commanders, participated in the program and ceremony. Also in attendance were several former Birmingham area commanders, including Major Bob and Captain Kathy Parker, Majors John and Karen Carter and Majors Mark and Susan Brown.

“The new Center of Hope is more than just a building,” said Major Roger Glick, Greater Birmingham area commander. “It is a place that will restore dignity to the services we provide and will offer hope to individuals and families going through difficult times.”

The program and services housed at the New Center of Hope will offer solutions to some of the biggest societal issues and challenges faced today, such as poverty, homelessness and education.

The Center of Hope will be home to a new program available through the Education and Workforce Development Center, enabling residents and the Birmingham community to advance their education and career readiness through basic life-skills training, GED preparation and vocational training.

The facility will also include a food pantry, which will provide families and individuals the ability to “shop” for items that they need. Transitional apartments, reserved for families and individuals as they work toward independence and sufficiency, will increase from 12 to 32 units. The Pathway of Hope initiative, which focuses on solving the problem of intergenerational poverty by opening doors to opportunity, will also be offered. The initiative builds community alliances to expand access to resources to create transformational change for parents and their children.

The new Center of Hope campus was designed around the complete restoration of Lewis Elementary School, which was originally built in 1928. The complex includes three new additional buildings that house a 200-seat capacity dining hall, a two-story men’s residential building and a three-story residential building for women and children.