Cape Verdean Cultural Center Oak Grove is finally ready for construction


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After more than 15 years of perseverance and hard work, the Cape Verdean Cultural Center in Oak Grove should be able to welcome visitors to its newly renovated space sometime in 2023, according to community leaders behind the project. .

The group has been working for years towards its goal of establishing a Cape Verdean Cultural Center at Oak Grove School due to the importance of the location within the Cape Verdean community. The school, located at 314 Onset Ave., was built in 1913 and the vast majority of its students were Cape Verdean.

June 16, after a few false starts and failures, the city of Wareham announced it will award the cultural center‘s 501 (c) (3) non-profit a 5-year lease on the building.

Tiny Lopes – who has worked on the project since its inception alongside many others – said the lease is “long in coming” and the process takes patience and understanding.

“It’s a trip since 2003,” Lopes said. “It’s a relief. It’s ours. We always thought it was ours, and the city has been very supportive of that.

Now, with a lease in hand, the group plans to renovate the basement of Oak Grove School, where the cultural center will be located.

The group has plans for a museum that will house and display cultural ‘artifacts and memorabilia’ and also hope to create a community space where ESL and GED classes and other mentoring and skills programs can be offered. .

“The story of Cape Verde has yet to be told,” Lopes said. He explained that the museum will display historical objects, works of art, photos, videos and more. “There were many community members who reached out to us and said, ‘Kid, when you’re ready to get it, I have this from the Old Country and the Old Country.’ […] We could fill the whole building with stuff, ”he said.

The aim of the cultural center is to bring local Cape Verdean culture to life. “We just want to make sure that we don’t lose the culture and bring in the young people to educate and inform them,” he said.

Additionally, Lopes said the center would ideally act as a central and accessible hub for people to connect with various agencies offering education and employment opportunities.

To support the renovation project, the cultural center will raise funds and solicit donations.

“We surely need some financial support,” Lopes said, noting that anyone wishing to support the cultural center can send a check payable to “Oak Grove Cape Verdean Cultural Center, Inc.” at PO Box 1100, Beginning, MA 02558.

Construction will only take place on weekends until the end of the project, he added, so educators and children in the Wareham Head Start program – which operates from the ground floor – walkway of the Oak Grove school building – will not be disturbed.

Even as construction begins, the South Shore Community Action Council’s Wareham Head Start child care program is more than welcome to continue operating out of the building, Lopes said.

He stressed that those in charge of the cultural center have no desire to see the program leave his home.

“We appreciate and recognize what they are doing because the community needs it,” Lopes said. “We want them to stay.

The South Shore Community Action Council submitted a request to lease the Oak Grove school to the city along with the Oak Grove Cape Verdean Cultural Center, Inc., and ultimately forfeited the lease in favor of the cultural center.

Lopes said the cultural center plans to offer the same lease terms to the childcare program the city has maintained.

“The community needs this facility to stay there if they can because most of the immediate community is using it,” he said. “We want them to know that they are more than welcome to stay. “

To follow the progress of the Cape Verdean Cultural Center Oak Grove, visit www.oakgrovecvcc.org where find the group Facebook page by searching for “Oak Grove Cape Verdean Cultural Center, Inc.”

Lopes estimated it would take about two years to renovate the 4,034-square-foot basement at Oak Grove School and to open the cultural center to visitors.

“We are not going to let our community be forgotten,” said Lopes, steadfast in his commitment to building the cultural center after 18 years of working on the project.

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