By Kevin Collison
The Don Bosco Center, a social and cultural anchor for the Columbus Park neighborhood of greater downtown since 1940, is nearing completion of a $3.7 million renovation.
The 13,00 square-foot facility at 526 Campbell has evolved with its neighborhood, once the home of Kansas City’s Italian-American community.
It, along with the other programs making up the Don Bosco Centers, has welcomed new generations of immigrants making their home in the northeast corner of Kansas City including a vibrant Vietnamese community.
Ann Van Zee, director of development for Don Bosco, said the old building had been empty for a number of years after a larger community center had been built in the early 2000s to serve the growing number of Don Bosco programs and clients.
“We are really excited to see this coming back to life,” Van Zee said.
The fundraising effort for the renovation began in 2015. Work started on the project in June 2018 after more than $3 million was raised.
Major donors included William and Jean Dunn; Sunderland Foundation; Roderick and Jo Anne Cyr Foundation; Friend of Don Bosco; Hall Family Foundation; The J.E. and LE. Mabee Foundation, and Marny and John Sherman.
The renovated, three-level Don Bosco building will include space for classrooms, a community kitchen, events and a gymnasium.
The Sewing Labs, a non-profit program that teaches sewing skills, is expected to occupy part of the building. A teen center also is planned and the gym will be used for league play and fitness classes.
Don Bosco officials hope to have a grand opening of the restored building the third Friday in June to coincide with the regular neighborhood art walk.
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