South End Corps debuts new gym

by Hugo Bravo

The Boston Celtics and Dunkin’ came together to unveil a renovated basketball court at The Salvation Army South End Corps in March. The project, almost two years in the making, was a collaboration by the two Boston-based organizations with a history of working with The Salvation Army in Massachusetts.

“Our kids from the after-school program love our gym, but it had not been in the best condition; it needed a lot of love,” says Captain Diana Rodriguez, corps officer at the South End Corps.

The gym floor was redone, along with the basketball nets and the padding on the walls. A brand-new addition is a wraparound mural with designs such as the Boston skyline, Celtics logos, and Dunkin’ colors. Children of the South End Corps shared their ideas of what they wanted to see in the mural.

“Kids, adults, and seniors all take part in activities inside our gym. They exercise, make friends, and they know that here, they’re safe. We wanted to give them all the gym that they deserve,” says Rodriguez.

Major Elijah Kahn, general secretary for The Salvation Army in Massachusetts, says that the renovation has brought new life to the South End Corps.

“We know how important basketball is to our young people,” says Kahn. “It teaches teamwork, dedication, and cooperation. Here, the kids learn all those skill sets; it helps them develop into our future leaders.”

At the gym’s unveiling in South End, Celtics forward Xavier Tillman made an appearance and participated in basketball drills, donut coloring, and Celtics-themed contests. Celtics mascot Lucky the Leprechaun, Shieldy the Salvation Army shield, and Dunkin’s Cuppy also took part in the celebration, posing for photos with children and Salvation Army staff.

“The kids were so excited to see Xavier there. Dunkin’ Donuts brought gift cards and Salvation Army-themed donuts, and one child even won tickets to see a Celtics game. All three organizations came together to create this beautiful event for the South End,” says Rodriguez.