By JOANNE L. PAPAIANNI
There is a transformation happening on DeWitt Avenue in Asbury Park as the West Side Community Center gets a new coat of paint, new landscaping and fencing and a new gymnasium floor.
Volunteers from such diverse organizations as Neighborworks, Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch came to the center on Fri. June 8 working all day to make the old new again.
The more than 100 volunteers climbed ladders with paint brushes, planted flowers and installed new fencing.
Inside, the old, warped gymnasium floor was pulled up by a bobcat and plans for a new floor are underway.
The work was completed through the coordinated efforts of the Affordable Housing Alliance and With Jersey From Love.
Neighborworks, a non profit which meets standards to receive federal grant funding has been active in Monmouth County for 26 years and is one of six in New Jersey of the 250 chapters nationwide.
Neighborworks CEO Donna M. Blaze said interns and apprentices of her organization were asked to find a project for this year’s annual Neighborworks Day before researching and choosing the West Side Community Center.
Curtis Moreland of From Jersey With Love, a 501(c)3, with offices in the WSCC told Blaze, “I could certainly use some help.”
“It’a very valuable project,” Blaze said.
In addition to the volunteer manpower, donations were received from Home Depot, Chick-fil-A and Morgan Stanley among others.
Looking at the progress that had been made by midday Blaze said, “It’s amazing what 100 people can do in a day. When we started at 9 o’clock this morning this building was a different color.”
A committee, she said, chose the color which matches the school district’s mascot, The Blue Bishops, to cover the previous cream color.
Inside the gymnasium building a bobcat and its driver were hard at work scraping up the warped and faded floor.
Moreland said there are two options to replace it, including a donation of wood flooring from an anonymous volunteer. However, the project would be “labor intensive” at a final cost of $240,000.
Another option, Moreland said, would be a rubberized floor at a cost of $26,000.
Moreland said he hopes to have the gym flooring done by August,
However, the roof is in need of major repair and to fund that project Moreland has set up a Go Fund Me Page.
They are also fundraising through a Bucket List Challenge by collecting coins in buckets throughout towns.
“We are PayPal certified, meaning as soon as someone donates they get an immediate email for their tax records.
Moreland was clearly grateful for the helping hands to rehabilitate the center.
“It’s a blessing, a partnership, we are so thankful to the Affordable Housing Alliance and Neighborworks,” Moreland said.
The building next door is part of the WSCC and is in good working order.
A summer program, The Asbury Park Arts and Theater, or APAT, which is set to begin at the end of June will be held there.
Children will attend Monday to Thursday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Fulfill, the local foodbank, is donating breakfast and lunch to those who participate in the program. said Quadai Palmer who works for From Jersey With Love.
Elyse Infanti of Oakhurst works for the Affordable Housing Alliance and enjoyed volunteering for the day as she planted flowers on the front lawn of the center.
“It’s great to get involved in the community. We all wanted to get involved in this. When they asked, everyone threw their hand up,” she said.
Infanti said many volunteers with her organization become emotional working on the building as they remembered coming there as children.
“I’m happy as anything to be here. We are lucky to have a great day,” she said referring to the warm sunny skies.
One volunteer who grew up in Ocean said he played many basketball games at the WSCC.
“So I was a little sad when I walked in the gym and saw the floor,” he said.
Volunteers from Morgan Stanley explained that June is Volunteer month for all of Morgan Stanley offices globally.
He said was happy to do his part and help out the center.
“It’s great for the kids; it looks great already,” he said.