SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation has awarded $250,000 to the New North Citizens Council (NNCC) for the construction of the Barbara Rivera Community Center in Springfield’s North End neighborhood.

“When I became Executive Director, like six months later my building was condemned, so I had to relocate all the staff. Now that was 2013, nine years ago,” said Maria Ligus Executive Director, New North Citizens’ Council.

Before becoming Executive Director, Ligus worked with NNCC for more than 25 years, helping with the organization’s mission to improve the lives of residence in Springfield and the surrounding communities through a variety of programs.

The new center is being built at 495 Chestnut Street in Springfield’s North End. It is being developed as a central location offering social service programs that are currently in several locations. Services include financial stability, housing and homelessness, affordable housing, violence prevention, youth leadership development, mentoring, food insecurity, after-school academic and recreational support, and employment.

“The Center dedicated in memory of Barbara Rivera will be the hub of activities and services that will not only serve the residents of the North End but all of Western Mass. Barbara Rivera was the founder and first Executive Director for the NNCC. She was to me, and many others, a force to reckon with when it came to the civil rights for people of color and a great mentor,” remarked Ligus.

The total construction cost is estimated at $7.5 million and the organization has raised more than half through grants and donations.

“We’ve already been approved to borrow if we need to but the less we borrow, the less the mortgage. And the more of our grant funds that can go towards programing, which is where we really need it,” said Ligus.

The Community Center is projected to open in September of 2023, which would coincide with the organizations 50th year anniversary.