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Seeking To Expand, St. Francis Neighborhood Center Turns To Community For Support

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Baltimore's oldest community center's success has been burdened with a unique problem, leaving it unable to use the facility while trying to find a solution.

The St. Francis Neighborhood Center has been a fixture in Reservoir Hill since 1963, but their home is in need of repairs and is now too small for the programming.

Emmanuel Leach is a confident Baltimore School for the Arts junior, but nine years ago, he arrived bullied, scared, and shy.

"I got a nice tutor for me and we did everything together and he helped me get to the place where I am today and I am so grateful for that," Leach said.

So too are the people there, and success stories like his quickly spread.

The center has gone from helping 18 kids to 75, and more than 500 people per month. But the center has outgrown their old house.

The group had raised $4 million to rebuild the mansion they call home, but then the contractor backed out of the project. \

A new contractor is on board, but at a $2 million price increase from the previous one.

The mansion is falling apart, forcing the center to move out, scattering their programming and leaving them scrambling to find an additional $2 million so promising people like Emmanuel can succeed.

"A lot of us aren't as fortunate to get those paths in life where people are helping us out, but actually having an anchor in the community, a staple that everyone knows and everyone loves, it's just magnificent," Leach said.

If you want to help the St. Francis Neighborhood Center reach it's 2 million dollar construction goal, go to

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