Arts & Culture

Long-Standing East End Community Center Struggles To Save Building

The 84-year-old organization bought the space in 1985 but they’ve fallen on hard times recently.


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On a Saturday evening in Houston's East End, music is blaring while people take to the dance floor inside a large banquet hall. The mood is light, but they're all here for a serious cause – to help a struggling non-profit just a few blocks away.

"Our roof has collapsed in the building. We have a historic building that we've had since 1985," says C.J. Alvez, President of the Sociedad Mutualista Obrera Mexicana, or SMOM. Since 1932, the organization has administered community services to the neighborhood, ranging from free dance classes to providing food for low-income families. Alvez says a new roof will cost $65,000. Until they get one, they can't make enough money to stay in business.

"The way we were a self-supporting organization was that we would rent the building out on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays," she explains."Quinceaneras, weddings, whatever you needed."

The building has been an easy target for vandals since there's been little activity inside for months. First, their brand new air conditioner was stolen. Last week, someone broke the glass at the entrance.

For Mamie Garcia, who has worked with SMOM since 1981, there's fear the building will be a lost cause if they don't take action soon.

"We need someone to help us to remodel the building," she says. "We don't need another abandoned building in this neighborhood."

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