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West End Center Gets Makeover

Patrick Patterson helped with landscaping at the West End Center.
Patrick Patterson helped with landscaping at the West End Center.

Approaching a 30th anniversary celebration in September, the West End Center on Patterson Avenue in Roanoke received an overdue facelift last weekend. Roanoke County supervisor Charlotte Moore’s Dreamscapes landscaping business donated the “manpower” – Moore included – while local nurseries and home improvement centers donated plants, flowers, trees and mulch.

When Moore visited the center, she took one look at the after school hub for inner city children and realized it could use her services. “We’ve been here every day this week,” said Moore last Saturday. A grant helped pay for the upgrades and several dozen volunteers donated their time.

Annette Patterson’s Advancement Foundation, which works with non-profits to secure funding, helped coordinate the makeover.

According to Patterson, the Foundation’s mission is to “help build sustainability and capacity. We go in and do strategic planning, [working] one on one with the directors.”

Patterson and West End Board members have asked former donors to, pledge $1,000 or more. The favorable response has been “unbelievable,” she said.

A $2 million campaign that will wipe out the center’s debt and begin an endowment is about $175,000 towards its goal. Patterson, whose husband, Patrick, is running for the Board of Supervisors in Roanoke County’s Vinton District, wanted to help the West End Center “make the most of it,” when the 30th anniversary celebration takes place in a few months.

“Peacebuilders,” tutoring and literacy programs based at West End Center, has resulted in higher graduation rates and much lower incidents of teen pregnancy for children attending, according to Patterson. “It is like a community. The kids feel safe.”

Sounding like the school guidance counselor that he is, Patrick Patterson was rolling up his sleeves to help with the landscaping. “Investing in students …and kids is the best investment a community can make,” Patterson said. The facelift last weekend was just one more example of “a real commitment to the kids.”

Board member Frankie Robbins vowed that if she beat a problem with vertigo she would volunteer at West End Center – and that’s what has happened.

“I loved it from the beginning,” Robbins said. She has tutored and mentored children in the past – on Saturday she picked up a paintbrush.

“We’ve seen what happens with these kids – they seem to love to rise to expectations. They’re wonderful children.”

Executive Director Kay Hale said the privately funded West End Center (mostly individual donations) is more than a building. Hale, a Roanoke College graduate who has served West End more than 25 years, said youth mental health services are a rarity in the African American community. Most of those who come to the center are at the lower end of the economic scale and the childcare rates are low.

“We are here to give kids the skills they need…and [a chance] to be happy,” said Hale. “We have a chance to make a difference.”

The overdue landscaping and painting last weekend helped brighten things up a bit. “We’ve needed this for a long time,” said Hale, adding that the sprucing up will probably continue on some level (the West End Center is located on three pieces of property) until September.

“We’re on our way,” Hale remarked concerning the fundraising effort.

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