New community center in Prospect Hill celebrated

Student leaders from Brandeis and Bentley worked with Prospect Hill residents on the project

Photo/Mike Lovett

An old daycare center in Waltham’s Prospect Hill Terrace that had been unused for years has been transformed into a shining new community center staffed predominantly by student volunteers from Brandeis University and Bentley University.

The two schools joined forces with local agencies to secure funding to renovate the 5,000 square-foot space, purchase equipment and fund programming at the center, located in Waltham’s largest low-income housing development.

Student leaders from Brandeis and Bentley worked with the Prospect Hill Tenants Association to develop programs for the center, which currently include after school activities, tutoring, and classes in computer programming and English as a second language. Upcoming programing will include fitness and health education, arts programing and resumé writing and job skill training.

A ceremony to celebrate the opening of the Prospect Hill Community Center held Oct. 15 was attended by Brandeis and Bentley administrators, local officials and members of the local community, including many young children from the community.

“We like to say that we are in the business of changing the arc of young peoples’ lives,” Brandeis President Frederick M. Lawrence said during the ceremony.  “And [our student volunteers] are changing the arc of younger people’s lives. If you don't believe me, you can see it in the eyes of these little kids who are running around.”

Establishing the community center involved collaboration between the city of Waltham, the Waltham Housing Authority, the Waltham Police Department, the Prospect Hill Tenants Association, the Bentley Service-Learning Center, Brandeis Senior Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences for Undergraduate Education Elaine Wong, the Department of Community Service at Brandeis and its director, Lucas Malo.

"We are forging into new trenches where students from both Bentley and Brandeis are coming together with a residents of the city of Waltham to share a mutual love for our community and respect of learning with each other," Malo said. “For decades, Brandeis has been busing youth from the Prospect Hill Community to our campus for weekly after-school programs.  It’s great to be able to do this in their backyard.”

Students and staff from both schools will continue to work together to develop curriculum, expand programming and secure future funding for the community center.

“None of us is as smart as all of us, none of us is as strong as all of us, none of us is as good as all of us,” Lawrence said. “When students from two great universities in this city come together, there really is no limit but for their imagination.” 

For information on donating to the center or volunteering, contact the Department of Community Service.

Categories: Humanities and Social Sciences, Student Life

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