Serving on the Streets (S.O.S.) was recently awarded the OCRA Community Focus Fund Grant after applying three times for the grant and many hours of fundraising.
The organization first applied for the grant in 2010.
"Each time we applied, our scores went up and our chances got better," Executive Director Jenni Chamberlain said.
The organization raised $50,000 to give to the grant as a match portion.
Finally, S.O.S. has received the funds its needed. The grant awarded S.O.S. with $400,000, funds that are specifically set aside for a non-profit organization's project.
S.O.S. plans to use the money to renovate the gymnasium in the old Brazil Junior High School building, located on Washington Street. Chamberlain said the goal is to turn the gym into a community center.
The grant money will be used to work on windows, plumbing, heating and roofing. According to Chamberlain, the community center will be handicap accessible with a kitchen facility.
Chamberlain and Assistant Director Heather Hopkins said they also want to paint, install carpeting and restore the exterior of the building. They said they want to cut costs by using volunteers and hopefully having financial sponsors to help with smaller projects in the community center.
Construction is set to begin early next spring, and the completion goal is November of 2013.
Once the community center is open, S.O.S. hopes to run its current programs out of the new building. Chamberlain and Hopkins said they want to expand the summer lunch program, offer open gym and offer art and dance classes.
"We'd like to offer snacks for our after school program," Chamberlain said. "That's one of the reasons why we need a kitchen."
Hopkins said they would also like to offer adult classes for things such as budgeting, healthy cooking and parenting. All programs and classes S.O.S. offers will be free.
However, for a donation, community members will be able to rent the facility for events.
"This will help us expand what we're already doing," Chamberlain said. "We want to offer a safe place for kids to come after school."
Chamberlain said the grant money would not cover all of the things needed for the community center. She said they would still need financial partners and volunteers. For instance, she said the kitchen would need appliances that the grant money would not cover.
"We want to be the hands and feet of Jesus," Chamberlain said. "We want to help break the cycle of poverty and addiction. We want children to know they can do anything in life."