Photo by Michael Bushnell

EllieAna Hale

Whatsoever Community Center, a center for education and community support since 1915, is recovering from the aftermath of a devastating fire that destroyed one of its buildings earlier this month. The targeted building, planned once for renovation to house preschool programs, now only is left with a single wall and charred building remains. 

The Whatsoever Community Center, which began as a soup kitchen in 1915, has evolved into a vital neighborhood after-school education hub. Over the years, it has become a space for many school-aged children and a safe space for community involvement. 

“Our main focus is the kids and the families but a lot of people depend on us for guidance on different things,” Whatsoever Community Center Executive Director, Charlie Gascich, said. 

This most recent incident is the second time the community center has been a victim of arson. Two years ago, an arsonist set fire to the same building, however, the previous damage was not as severe. 

Tragically, the fire that erupted earlier this November has left the once-promising space in ruins. The devastating setback has left the community center in dire need of support to completely clear the space, instead of rebuilding. 

“We want to make the space more beneficial for the community,” Gascich said. “We want to put up a little pavilion so people can meet and such like that. So that’s where the GoFundMe comes in and tries to help cover the cost of the cleanup and getting the area more user-friendly for the community.” 

In response to the arson, Whatsoever Community Center has launched a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe, seeking financial assistance from the Northeast Community and beyond. The funds raised will be applied to cover the costs of cleanup, demolishing the damaged structure, and transforming the space into a vibrant and beneficial resource for the neighborhood. 

“This is the first step before we can move on with trying to do more things for the community,” Gascich said.

As the Whatsoever Community Center strives to grow from this tragedy, the Northeast’s community’s support is vital in creating a brighter future for the neighborhood and its youngest members

“We’re just grateful for all the people that help us and look forward to keep on helping the community,” Gascich said.

To donate to the Whatsoever go fund me effort, click here!