When Lisa Essig of Essig Family McDonald’s at Independence and Hardesty heard the news early in November that the annex at the Whatsoever Community Center had nearly burned to the ground, she knew immediately that her restaurant had to step up and lend a hand.

On December 13th, Essig launched a digital fundraiser at the Avenue McDonald’s where 20% of all the digital sales through the McDonald’s app, in-store kiosks and delivery orders placed at the restaurant would be donated to the Whatsoever Community Center to assist with demolition costs.

On Thursday, December 21, Essig was proud to hand over a $5,000 check to the center’s Executive Director Charlie Gascich to help the center recover from the fire and lay the foundation for a new pavilion where the building once stood.

“Whatsoever has been here over a hundred years and its served generations of families through the decades,” said Essig said. “It’s an underappreciated jewel in Northeast and we’re happy to help here but also to raise awareness, not just here in the community but across the entire city,” Essig added. “It’s just a great opportunity.”

Gascich was beaming as he accepted the check, thanking the community at large for the help. “Essig has been super to help us get this thing taken down,” Gascich said. “But we’re also grateful to all the folks that came together from the community and allowed us to be able to get rid of that eyesore.”

Local contractor Industrial Salvage and Wrecking started the job on Tuesday of last week and by Thursday afternoon, no trace of the old Fred Haven’s center existed, just a large hole with fill
dirt ready to be graded over the top. According to Gascich, a small covered pavilion will be built on the site.
“There’s generations of families that have come here,” Gascich continued. “We’re talking grandparents, great-grandparents that have come through here and that’s why folks around here really want to help us because Whatsoever has been there for their families in the past. It’s just great people giving back and helping out in the community.

For more information on the Whatsoever Community Center, visit