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South Dallas community center reopens after getting a major facelift

The S.M. Wright Foundation’s site had been closed since December, but now community members once again have a resource that provides clothes, other items to families in need.

By Sriya Reddy

Pamela Goines
Pamela Goines, left, and Bridget Edmun, walk towards the S.M. Wright Foundation’s South Dallas Community Clothing and Resource Center during its reopening in Dallas on Thursday. / Photo Credit: Lola Gomez / Staff Photographer

After extensive renovations, the S.M. Wright Foundation’s South Dallas Community Clothing and Resource Center is up and running once again to provide community members with free clothes, hygiene products and other necessities.

The center, located next to the People’s Missionary Baptist Church, reopened Thursday after being closed closed since December.

Manager Mary Jernigan said nearly everything from the indoor flooring to the rundown lawn needed to be replaced. New pipes were installed, the exterior repainted and water damage remediated. They also added new shelving and racks.

“It went from a building that we made work for us to actually a department store — a resource center,” she said. “A place of giving and caring. That’s what we provide from that building.”

Jernigan has been working for the center since it opened in the early 2000s. She said that it’s a place of refuge for those who need it from all across Dallas.

“We provide peace, comfort and prayer,” Jernigan said. “Whatever you say between me and you in confidence, it stays there. I always have my ears and my shoulders open for people that just want to vent about their problems.”

Jernigan is a community resident herself and knows how much her neighbors value the center in their community. She said it serves about 80 families per week.

Mary Jernigan
Mary Jernigan, general manager, welcomes community members to get free clothes and resources during the S.M. Wright Foundation’s South Dallas Community Clothing & Resource Center reopening in Dallas on Thursday. / Photo Credit: Lola Gomez / Staff Photographer

The Rev. S.M. Wright II leads the People’s Missionary Baptist Church as well as the foundation. He regularly talks to members of the community to see what they need. These conversations led the center to also offer small household appliances, such as toasters and hand mixers. The community is also what pushed the center to stay at its location on Pine Street.

“We were looking at other locations, but the community said no, they want us right here in the neighborhood,” Wright said. “So we listened to the community, and that’s why we just went ahead and had a capital campaign to go ahead and renovate the current center.”

The center is part of the work of the S.M. Wright Foundation, which was established in 1998 to address concerns of the South Dallas community and beyond. The nonprofit organization hosts Christmas at Fair Park, hands out meals during Thanksgiving and provides residents with necessities. Alongside the Clothing and Resource Center, the S.M. Wright Foundation also has a food center, education center and furniture bank, among other services.

“The center has a historic role here in the neighborhood,” he said. “We’re here to service the community. It is a major hub, and it’s been a major lifeline for so many families here.”

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