In 1979, poverty, crime, and drug trading characterized Roanoke's West End neighborhood. Vacant lots, abandoned buildings, and deteriorating rental properties were widespread. A number of children were wandering the streets without supervision, and there had been an increase in vandalism.
In response, West End Presbyterian Church, West End Methodist Church and the Mountain View Neighborhood Alliance formed a coalition to establish West End Center as a safe haven for the neighborhood children.
Since that time, West End Center has experienced tremendous growth, both in the number of children served and the available programs and services. Today, West End Center serves about 150 children each year who live in Roanoke’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods.
The goal of the program is to equip children with the developmental assets they need to become productive, responsible adults. To accomplish this goal, West End Center offers a comprehensive educational program.
West End Center’s staff, board of directors, and corps of volunteers have had the privilege of participating in the growth and development of a number of fine young adults. Some have enrolled their own children in the program. Some have gone on to college. Some have served in the armed forces. Many are pursuing successful careers. A few have even come back to work at the Center.
Each of these successful young people is a testament to the ability of this grassroots, community-based program, working in partnership with loyal supporters, to make a difference in the lives of young people.
The former Villa Sorrento restaurant where the West End Village building now stands.