St. Francis Center

The St. Francis Center, 709 Ave. I, was recently purchased by Debra and Earnest Adams. The couple wants  to revamp the building into a community center.

St. Francis Center may soon be a hub for the community if all goes according to plan.

Husband and wife Debra and Earnest Adams recently purchased the building, located at 709 Ave. I, from the Pax Christi Ladies, a Catholic lay women's organization, with the intention of revamping it into the Greenwood Community Center.

The acquisition process took two years, Earnest said. They just got the property deeds this month. The couple declined to discuss the price.

“I spent my whole childhood in that building,” Earnest said. “The building itself has a whole lot of historical value.”

In its heyday, the St. Francis Center provided a variety of services for the community. Years ago, it offered a medical clinic, a used-clothing store, a venue for Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops and evening job skills classes for adults.

The purpose of their purchase of the building “is to make it a community center for the entirety of Greenwood,” Earnest said. “It’s definitely not a black thing; it’s a Greenwood thing.”

The community center will offer a slew of programs for those ages 6 and up, most of which will be free, Earnest said.

There will be scholarship programs to help high school students prepare for college, programs aiming at vocational school for those not interested in college, GED programs, and also a gym, among other plans.  

Earnest said those programs match the ones he and his wife held while they were in Georgia.

Born and raised in Greenwood, Earnest left his hometown in 1976 to attend Albany State University in Albany, Georgia, on a football scholarship.

Following graduation, he worked for Albany’s police department for a number of years. He said he made history when he became the first African-American to join the department’s SWAT team.

Greenwood was still on Earnest’s mind, and he would pop back for family visits. While living in Atlanta, he and his wife began to run community programs.

During a visit home, Earnest recalled his mom telling him that there were kids in town who just drifted and didn’t have anywhere to go. Earnest said he was “compelled” by God “to come back home and do something for my people.”

Renovations for the building are expected to cost around $50,000, he said. These will include bringing electrical and plumbing equipment up to code, painting and fixing the roof and floor.

The Adamses hope to open the Greenwood Community Center in May, after the school year ends, in order to provide local students with summer programs.

More information can be found at www.facebook.com/greenwoodmiss.

Contact Gerard Edic at 581-7239 or gedic@gwcommonwealth.com.

The original version of this article incorrectly reported the previous ownership of St. Francis Center.

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