By Amy Pflugshaupt NBC15 Anchor | Photographed By Valerie Tobias
The Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center has been a community staple for half a century. During that time, not much has changed with the facility and use has only increased.
“We really realized that the building has been loved to the point of some injury,” says Steve Silverberg, a board member of the neighborhood center. “It is such a beautiful, old, funky building and so many good things are happening here.”
The old church was gifted to the community nearly 50 years ago. On any given week, more than 800 different people use the facility, organizers say. Some of its offerings include 12-step programs, home brewers’ meetings and senior exercise classes.
Gary Kallas is the executive director of the center. He believes something magical happens within the four walls of the building.
“This is a place where people’s lives become empowered and enriched,” says Kallas.
Some big changes are in store for the center on Madison’s Near East Side. In April, Wil-Mar was named the recipient of this year’s Design for a Difference Makeover.
Design for a Difference is a national program that partners with local designers and organizations that donate their time, talents and goods to transform local nonprofits so the organizations can better serve communities. FLOOR360 has spearheaded the project in the Madison-area for the last five years.
Kallas has been working at the community center since 2001 and said this makeover is long overdue. Like so many other nonprofits in the area, these organizations often run on a shoe-string budget and any money raised usually goes into programming first.
When it comes to the makeover, everyone has their own wish list: fresh paint, bright colors, organizing rooms and even getting the piano fixed.
Angela Skalitzky is the vice president of retail and design at Floor360 and has been the Design for a Difference Project Manager since 2015.
“We’re really excited to come in and preserve the charm of the space while really reviving it to this day and time where people can really enjoy it,” says Skalitzky.
Volunteers are already in the planning phase. The final makeover will be revealed later this fall.