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Small Town Big Minds embark on next big project in Dunkirk

They want a safe space for kids
Hernandez, Rodriguez, Rosado and Morales (not pictured) say they're ready to take the next step for the Dunkirk community
Posted at 5:00 AM, Jul 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-30 05:56:34-04

DUNKIRK, N.Y. (WKBW) — Renovating any building can be a huge undertaking, but the former movie theater on Third Street in Dunkirk is going to need a lot of TLC.

"We definitely had a hopeless feeling when you walk in, but the thing is, someone’s gotta do it, someone’s gotta take the challenge," said Raul Rosado, Dunkirk native.

Small town big minds is turning this old theater into a rec center
Small town big minds is turning this old theater into a rec center

Who better to take on that challenge than Small Town Big Minds. They raised money to build an ice rink for the community from scratch over the winter.

Since then, they’ve done a few other things, including raising money for a softball tournament for the kickball field they're building and hosting a football camp

"We’re gaining the trust from our community, which is making us feel like this is doable for us, this is the biggest project we’ve tackled so far," said Rosado, Co-founder.

With that community support, they want to turn this into rec center for kids in the community. They're working with Kids at Promise to bring a 2XL boxing gym back to Dunkirk.

Small Town Big Minds estimate it'll take three to seven years to complete this project
Small Town Big Minds estimate it'll take three to seven years to complete this project

There will also be a commercial kitchen, upstairs a computer lounge, music studio and more.

"We want them to know they can come here and just be safe, we know sometimes home isn’t the best place," said Rosado.

They’re just getting started—hosting a cleanup over the weekend, with dozens of volunteers coming to help.

"There was trash everywhere, someone was using it for storage pretty much," said Chris Rodriguez.

They estimate it’ll cost around $1 million and take three to seven years to complete. With so much work to do--why choose this building?

"This building is in a perfect place for a youth center, it’s right down the street from the high school and the middle school, kids can come down here and do their homework," said Rosado.

It's also where they finished their first ever project as a group.

"You can look at something like this and get down, looking around you and seeing, wow, this is pretty far off and then you see the amount of people that are hopeful with us, you can’t give up. I don’t wanna give up," said Rosado.

So far—they’ve gotten donations from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. foundation, but they’re looking to get some more donations to speed up this process. To donate, click here.