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SALT LAKE CITY — A community center for at-risk youth has reason to celebrate today, as it received a new look which also brings new opportunity for kids.
More than 100 kids who speak 117 different languages go to the Dream Center. The renovations to the center are 90-percent done. Founder Alfred Murillo saw the improvements for the first time less than two hours ago.
"Wow, this is great," he said. "It looks awesome."
Murillo founded the place in 2002 to help kids in Salt Lake's west side. Kids like Marta Kwizera.
"I usually come when there's no school," she said.
So does Alex Abarca, who says he learns art and dance at the center.
"It makes you learn," he said. "They help you and help your reading."
But over the years, the place got run down.
"We had some severe issues," Murillo said. "The roof was leaking, the heating didn't work, or air conditioning. The kitchen was just kind of put together."
This week, the building got a much needed facelift thanks to the nonprofit foundation Heart 2 Home.
Work started on Monday afternoon, and volunteers worked up to the last minute. There are new floors, drywall and paint. There are also structural improvements like heating and air.
"The ultimate vision is to develop community centers that will holistically provide physical, educational and Christian programing to strategic neighborhoods throughout the state of Utah."
More information can be found here.
Some of the kids who come here helped with the work too.
"Just the fact that they're taking ownership of something that is theirs," said Greg Adamson with Heart 2 Home. "This is all set up to help them stay out of trouble, stay out of gangs."
That was Murillo's goal when he began the after-school program. There's also an arts academy, and Murillo gives out clothes, food and furniture.
"I can totally relate as far as the challenge it is to have a single parent, a bunch of kids' ability to make it — try to make it on whatever you can," he said.
And the changes will only help the kids, who consider this place a second home.
"It looks really good," Kwizera said.
One thing the place now has are ramps for kids with special needs. Murillo says now they can reach many more kids they weren't able to in the past.