By Jessica Perez
OMAHA, Nebraska (KETV) — There’s a new effort to restore the historic Bryant Resource Center building and turn it into a community hub in north Omaha.
Omaha Skills Connection and the Bryant Resource Center are leading the efforts. The building stood empty for the last few years on Grant Street and the two organizations see its potential.
They want to create a safe space for families to gather and receive resources. Omaha Skills Connection would offer its career readiness services, and other things like athletics and access to technology would also be available.
The Chair of the Bryant Resource Center Board, Diana Vogt, said the building is a great resource just sitting there.
“There’s been no place for the community to gather [in north Omaha], no place to have meetings, no place to have as a central point of access for any kind of services or even things like register to vote,” Vogt said.
Michella Blankman, the Executive Director of OSC, said the building also has a long history.
It was built in 1928.
Blankman said it was one of the first catholic schools that allowed black people in the area. It then became a resource center and a community center, and then it was shut down during the pandemic.
“This building has a lot of roots, a lot of history for the community, and that’s why it’s so important to bring this back,” she said.
Vogt said the timing is perfect because the restoration will coincide with the renovation to North 24th Street.
“I just think we have a great opportunity here, and we think now is the time to really get momentum behind it,” she said. “We’re really looking forward to seeing what we can produce here.”
Blankman said she believes the center will be beneficial to the community.
“I really think it’s important to be able to leverage services that people can really, really utilize in the community,” she said.
She also said the location is easily accessible through the bus lines.
Blankman’s uncle Terry Gregory attended grade school in the building.
“It’s like a home to me, you know, I grew up here,” Gregory said.
He’s now one of about 20 volunteers working to clean the center. He said the center will be a great place to make sure people can access resources safely, something extremely needed in the community.
He said while the building was empty, people vandalized the inside of the building – breaking windows, damaging some of the wood and tearing up furniture. He wants to play a part in getting it restored.
“It’s a good learning place,” he said. “I just want to see it continue on the building itself.”
There’s still plenty of work to be done.
Gregory said during the last two clean-up sessions, hundreds of bags of trash were taken out of the building.
Vogt said the roof also needs $40,000 worth of repairs, the walls need to be painted, and the carpet needs to be torn.
Right now, Blankman is asking the community to come out Saturday to 2417 Grant St. at 10 a.m. to help clean out the rest of the building.
She invites anyone 14 and older to help.
Vogt said a campaign to gather funds is also in the works. The hope is to start renovations to the building by summertime, but it may be a year or more before the center is fully operational.
Blankman said she hopes the community jumps on board with the project and helps make it happen.
“We still have a lot of work to do, but we want them to not just come Saturday. We want them to come, you know, moving forward with other activities that we have here,” she said.
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