BY PAUL LEIGHTON
---- — BEVERLY — It’s a nondescript building on a busy road that most people pass by and never enter.
But for those who do walk through the door, the Salvation Army outreach center on Elliott Street has been a source of assistance for 30 years.
Now, with the holiday season in full swing, the building is getting a much-needed face-lift that officials say will ensure the Salvation Army’s future in the city.
The organization is in the midst of a $70,000 renovation of the two-story building, which was built around 1900. It will reopen in January with a new office, food pantry and loading dock to accommodate food donations.
“People who come here, they’ve got to swallow their pride to come in,” Salvation Army Capt. Scott McNeil said. “I think they should have something respectable to come into.”
The Salvation Army, which is an evangelical Christian church, has operated the outreach center on Elliott Street since 1982. Its main North Shore headquarters is on North Street in Salem, where it offers social services during the week and runs a Sunday school and worship service on Sundays.
McNeil, who leads the North Shore chapter with his wife, Nora, said the Beverly location serves as an “outpost” for the Salvation Army for communities north of Salem. It serves 50 to 70 people per month, he said.
The Beverly office has been staffed for 25 years by Salvation Army social worker and Beverly native Katina Polemenako.
Polemenako assists people with food, rent, fuel and other services. Sometimes, she said, it’s just enough to just sit and listen. She has known some of her clients for 25 years.
“They’ll check in on and off and tell me about their lives,” she said. “Some of the volunteers that help at Christmas time used to be clients.”
Polemenako has been working in the Salem office since the renovations began in November. She has been driving to Beverly with food to give to clients who can’t make it to Salem.
“She’s built up a great relationship with so many people,” McNeil said.
Polemenako said she’s excited about moving back to the newly renovated office in Beverly.
“It’ll be good for my clients,” she said. “It’s uplifting when you get new stuff.”
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.