Volunteers are hard at work to bring back a community center in Schenectady. Carver Community Center was a staple in the city, until it closed in 2013.
Wednesday morning volunteers were getting their hands dirty, renovating the playground. It’s a place that meant so much to Cassandra Williams, a Schenectady resident, and school district employee. Williams two children attended the center growing up.
“We want it make it a sanctuary, a place that a kid can just be a kid. If this is going to help get kids off the street, I’m all for it,” said Williams.
A local nonprofit group, “Miracle on Craig Street," acquired the building during the foreclosure and is looking to restore it back to its original glory. It was founded in 1969, right at the end of the civil rights movement. The group says there’s been a void in the community without the center open. But, they still have a lot of work ahead of them to get the project completed. They have been slowly renovating since 2015, and hope to have the building open by 2021.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the building, another project is in the works. Rae Fraiser is a local graffiti artist, covering the tags and graffiti left on the vacant building over the years. She says her medium, spray paint, is a good way to connect and collaborate with those who choose to vandalize and show them a different way to express themselves.
“Although it looks like vandalism, whoever did this was expressing themselves artistically,” she said.
She says kids need somewhere to learn who they are, as she just discovered her passion for art four years ago.
“I was the athlete, so I thought that’s what I was supposed to be doing. But I realized as humans, there’s not just one part to us, we can wear many different hats,” added the artist.
Fraiser hopes the community center can be a place just for that.
“This place is going to be essential for them to come and create and be their full selves, and be expressive and be whoever they want to be,” Fraiser said.
She already began a mural on the side of the building, which is a collaboration with people throughout the city. The red, black, and gold paint highlights welcoming, encouraging, and positive messages. She hopes people can see the positivity radiate from the building.