It was a historic day in the city of Braham May 1 as a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the Braham Community Center project.
Despite the chilly weather, a large contingency of people of all ages from Braham, as well as neighboring communities, gathered for the celebration.
The ceremony opened with “The Star-Spangeled Banner” and a prayer led by Pastor Steve Jennisch. It also involved guest speakers and a special musical selection, “We Have a Hammer,” performed by Marie Grundberg. The program concluded with prayer led by Pastor Gary Shaw.
“I would like thank you all for coming and supporting this idea and for helping build a community center,” said Braham Mayor Tish Carlson. “Success isn’t just determined by a striving spirit or a solid foundation, but by the support of the connections in between. Working together toward one purpose, we stretch further than our past goals into a realm of new possibilities. With each individual on our team connected and strong, we can reach new heights.”
At 14,000 square feet and with a seating capacity of 300 people, the community center will include a large meeting area, a banquet hall for reunions and wedding receptions, space for youth and senior events, business and civic group meetings, the food shelf, a library with Internet access, art and educational opportunities and a full commercial kitchen.
The Community Center is located on the west side of 8th Street SW, just north of the Braham Elementary School.
“This really is a milestone in the 100-year history in the city of Braham,” said David Braddock, who served as Master of Ceremonies. “The community center will be a place to bring together the people of Braham and East Central Minnesota. It’ll be a place to grow, learn and celebrate together.”
Many accolades were given to Tusen Tack, the Braham Community Center Task Force, city of Braham, Lakes and Pines, Initiative Foundation, Unity Bank, community members, donors and other organizations who contributed to the success of the project.
“The Community Center Task Force, along with many other volunteers and contributors, have worked countless hours to see this project bloom, and now today we stand here with shovel in hand to break ground on our dream,” Carlson said.
Marion Larson talked about the beginning of the ‘Building our Dream’ project.
“I was so happy when I was asked three years ago to speak out about the project and get people interested in the project at Braham Appreciation Day under the big tent,” Larson said. “Look what we’ve done in three years. We have done a lot, but we have to keep it going. About one word expresses this more than anything, yahoo!”
Larson said this is just the beginning of the project and continued work is needed to keep it moving forward.
“I would like to thank a core group of people who have worked so hard, and put in thousands of volunteer hours on this project,” Larson said. “We have really had to work together on this. We have also had to have a positive attitude; you can’t accomplish anything without a positive attitude. This group has much to be proud of, and we’re not done yet. This is just the beginning. Braham has continued to have progress, and the progress keeps moving forward with this fine building.”
Shaw appreciated the fact the ceremony involved prayer.
“I would like to thank the leadership of the Braham Community Center Project and thank you for including God and prayer in your special ceremony,” Shaw said. “I’m so happy to be standing in this place … I’m so glad Braham is a community that isn’t afraid to call upon the Lord whether it’s a time of worship or celebrating the building of the community center.”
Since fundraising kicked off at Braham Appreciation Day in June 2010, significant contributions have been secured toward the project’s $1.7 million goal. To date, more than 300 individuals and groups have donated.
It all began in August 2006, when the Braham Area Chamber of Commerce applied to the Initiative Foundation for a Healthy Communities Partnership grant and won $15,000 for leadership development. Grant participants hosted a community visioning session a year later, and 100 people voted unanimously to build a community center.
In August 2008, an application to the University of Minnesota’s Horizon anti-poverty project was successful, and the Horizons program and training came to Braham. The intent of the work was to help develop assets needed to support the community center concept. Leadership training began in 2009.
Meantime, Tusen Tack stepped forward with $100,000 toward the physical structure and leadership to help direct the process. The Braham Area Community Center Task Force committee formed, as well, and there’s been plenty of accomplishments along the way.
The task force worked with the city of Braham and identified a piece of city land that would be appropriate for the center. It was close to the school and biking and hiking trails, and it was large enough to accommodate the building and sufficient parking spaces.
Next, the task force identified a construction project management firm, and through its assistance developed the preliminary design of the community center and cost estimates. A feasibility study of the project was completed by the task force with Janna King from Economic Development Services.
The task force also worked with the city, King and Lakes and Pines in submitting a successful DEED grant request for $600,000. A USDA loan application was successful, too, in acquiring a loan guarantee for 60 percent.
In addition, the task force initiated a fundraising campaign and has received donations from over 237 families and 32 organizations. Fifteen fundraising events have been held, also.
For more information on this endeavor or to donate, visit BrahamCenter.org. The community center is a registered nonprofit charitable organization.