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Salvation Army adds commercial kitchen and classrooms

Renovation to the Renton Salvation Army’s kitchen is two weeks away from completion. - Tracey Compton, Renton Reporter
Renovation to the Renton Salvation Army’s kitchen is two weeks away from completion.
— image credit: Tracey Compton, Renton Reporter

The downtown Renton Salvation Army welcomed the new year with some additional space to their downtown church site.

The renovation is about two weeks from completion and adds a commercial grade kitchen, classrooms, a new entry way and even showers.

Services have also expanded at the site, with more guests at the community supper and children involved in the after school programs.

The supper was originally created to feed the homeless, but Capt. Chris Aird explained that other members of the community also need assistance.

“We actually now have seniors who are showing up,” he said. “People, who are homeless, but who are living in their vehicles. Families are eating at the community supper.”

The supper is now seven nights a week.

The Salvation Army began working with the Renton Ecumenical Association of Churches, or REACH, to come up with a plan to accommodate the growth in the feeding program. The additional nights were added with REACH’s support and members of the Harambee center, in downtown Renton. Various churches feed guests out of the building on Sunday.

“We have financial supporters, donors who are giving to the community supper, who help out with the food aspect and everything that falls under the community supper,” said Aird.

With the renovation, the church is able to conduct its after-school and youth ministry programs, while the community supper is being held. Parents can drop off and pick up their children through a separate entrance from the feeding program.

“We’ve literally been able to more than double our numbers,” said Aird of the children’s programs. “We used to have about 18 to 29 on average; we’re up to 40-some-odd children now.”

A computer lab and arts and crafts room are planned for the additional space.

A portion of the renovation was funded by a $500,000 bequeath from local resident Helen Dyrdal. Her estate donated the money in 2010. The total cost of the project was about $1.1 million, with additional funds from the Salvation Army.

The remodel plans for the kitchen were not a part of the original renovation, but upper management approved the decision. Aird points out that no outside money from the community went to pay for the kitchen.

“It’s working,” he said of the new space. “We’re able to host more people here… We’ve somewhat increased our numbers in the community supper. They’re now seven nights a week instead of just four; three (nights) when they initially started.”

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