"This dedication is one of love, tenderness, and inspiration for our community. It will work this time, for the job well done now is outside, not inside. Our community challenge needs more understanding; instead of community where he is black, letís think of he or she as human. Thereís a great challenge in our society. Letís get back in the mood of inspiration."
Renaming Ceremony, October 25, 2005
The creation of a youth center at 3134 Washington Street grew out of the crisis caused by escalating violence in the community. In 1991, the shooting death of a young man across the street from the largely-abandoned warehouse at 3134 Washington Street galvanized the community to advocate for a youth facility in the neighborhood. After weekly meetings involving up to 200 residents at a time, Shawmut Bank offered to sell the property to Urban Edge at a below-market price.
Requiring a significant investment to make the property habitable, Urban Edge assembled a million dollars in equity and financing from an array of sources including a federal grant from the Department of Health and Human Servicesí Office of Community Services, a forgivable loan from the Cityís Public Facilities Department, and loans from two city agencies and Shawmut Bank. Later that year, the Egleston Square YMCA and the Greater Egleston Community High School opened to provide youth with a safe alternative to the streets where they could develop specific social skills and positive relationships with peers and adults.
After extensive internal renovations in the summer of 2002, Our Place Theatre Project joined the YMCA and Greater Egleston Community High School in the newly renovated 31,000 square foot space. Attentive to the needs of youth and the community and staffed by current and former community residents, the Youth Center has attracted a steady and devoted audience.
Since its beginning, the Egleston Square Youth Center has been credited by the community and by law enforcement agencies for helping reduce gang and drug activity in the neighborhood. Now, fourteen years later, Urban Edge seeks to continue this mission by renovating the exterior of the Egleston Square Youth Center (which has been renamed the Father Jack Roussin Community Center) to continue to better serve youth and families of Roxbury and Jamaica Plain.
Father Jack Roussin Community Center is a home of: