Washington Neighborhood Center, on the corner of 16th and D streets, was established in 1956 and has held strong over the years, staying open and serving a diverse community that keeps coming back to participate in the many activities offered there.
Many great people have benefitted from the Center, including boxers, renowned artists, business owners and people from different levels of government. The Center holds value to the community it serves.
“The Center is a community center that offers various programs to the community with a focus on youth and the arts,” says Joe Ramirez, chairman of the board, ”Through our programs and events, the community has access to different types of resources and workshops.”
Ramirez—who lives in the area and took over a few years ago—oversees the majority of operations with a focus on programs, events and business development. He is committed to restoring the Center back to its glory days. He says it’s in a good place right now and well on its way back by offering different things for different people, including youth judo, outdoor mural painting, Aztec dancing, ballet folklorico, youth art, art shows, ESL classes, basketball, weights and more.
“I heard about the Center through my elders originally, when they would talk about their glory days reminiscing with me,” Erayis Montes says. “Then years later, through my friends in the art community.”
Montes used to go the Center at least two Fridays a month, where he would attend group meetings and art workshops. He volunteered for art shows and hung out with his young son. He says he enjoyed going to the Center because it was a hub for local creatives and to establish himself in the community.
The Center is a non-profit organization funded by multiple public organizations, private supporters and others.
“We have recently began to work with the California Endowment, where we received a donation,” Ramirez says, noting people have a chance to donate to the Center on May 3, the “Big Day of Giving” in Sacramento — a 24-hour challenge to donate to the Center. Visit bigdayofgiving.org for more information.
“There are a lot of things in motion that are coming together as we speak to bring back that essence or vibrancy it once had,” Ramirez says. “Right now it’s just a process that is already in motion and we just need to let it take place. In the meantime all is very well. Big things around the corner!”
If you’ve never been to the Center, you should check it out — at least behold a piece of Sacramento history. The building is filled with nostalgia and the artwork is some of the best downtown has to offer. The Center’s mission is to create healthy minds and bodies.