Two Buildings sitting on the site of Pinky Lewis Community Centre are a study in contrasts. The former Sanford Avenue School is being demolished to make way for a soccer field, while the former Mohawk College on Wentworth Street North is the recipient of a Hamilton Municipal Heritage Committee (HMHC) award for property conservation.
Mission Services purchased the former Mohawk College facility after meeting with Mayor Bratina to ask if he could suggest a location. The mayor suggested the former Hamilton Institute of Technology site and contacted Rob MacIsaac of Mohawk College. Meetings followed and a deal was struck for Mission Services to acquire the building.
Since Mission Services obtained the property in October, 2011 they have invested $2 million and transformed the building into a Community Opportunity Centre.
They are operating a nutrition center/food bank three days a week and serving nearly 1,000 individuals a month. They recently started food demonstrations with Chef Luigi from the St. Charles Centre, providing healthy eating and cooking advice for their clients. Trusteeship programs and complementary used clothing are also provided at the center.
The site also offers addiction treatment services daily and basic literacy classes and English as a second language classes collaborating with the St. Charles Adult, Continuing Education Centre. Beginning in the fall, Mission Services will start employment training sessions in cooperation with St. Charles. Mohawk College also is working in collaboration with Mission Services, leasing space for the next twenty years.
The former Sanford Avenue Building was ordered demolished by the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board. The move was criticized by heritage advocates who argued for a better use of the property, but fencing has been placed around the 80 year old school and demolition has begun.