Nov 21, 2004 – The building on the corner of Market and Prince streets in Frederiksted, once a store where older residents remember buying candy after school, then a government-owned condemned building for several decades, was dedicated Saturday as the new Ione M. Armstrong Educational Center.
About two dozen residents were on hand to celebrate the dedication of the new center, located at 10 Prince Street.
Dr. Catherine M. Terrell, president of St. Patrick Catholic School Alumni Association, in opening remarks noted the commitment of alumni association members and volunteers who made the old building, once falling down and overgrown with weeds, into a clean, renovated home for computer and steel-pan music classes.
Terrell said that such a facility is important for a "society at risk" such as Frederiksted's. Plans for the building also include adult classes, character building, creative jewelry-making, academic enrichment, china painting and antique chair-caning.
Funding for the project came from a $150,000 federal grant administered by the Law Enforcement Planning Commission. Meredith Nielsen, grant administrator, said another $50,000 in grant money is coming to operate the center.
Terrell pointed out that the building is located centrally to four different low-income housing units. Students and adults residing in those communities will be eligible for free classes.
Terrell said she had known Ione Armstrong only a short time but had "grown to love her." Armstrong, 1920-2001, St. Patrick class of 1935, was a founding member and trustee-at-large of the association. She spent 40 years as a professional nurse. Her career took her to Europe and Africa.
Claris Mulgrave, Armstrong's sister, spoke a few emotional words about what her sister meant to her.
In his remarks, Alphonso Franklin, a founding member of the association, said the building "was a testament to what the hard work of the association could accomplish" and a step toward bringing Frederiksted "back to its former glory."
Nielsen said this project signifies a new direction that federal grants can take with faith-based organizations. He said he is presently working with the Moravians on St. Croix and the Lutherans on St. Thomas. However, he said the project with was one of the largest he has seen in his two and a half years with LEPC.
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