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Washburn Center Reopens After Fire

Tony Giberson, Pensacola News Journal

It’s back to business at the Alfred Washburn Center in Pensacola, one week after a fire destroyed the main service building.

Lunch was served by members of St. Paul Catholic Church: chicken casserole with noodles; green beans, chocolate and vanilla pudding for dessert as well as assorted Christmas candies.

About three dozen of Washburn’s clients lined up for the meal, and more were expected. One special guest was Bishop Gregory Parkes, who oversees the Pensacola-Tallahassee Catholic Diocese. He delivered the invocation. Prior to the lunch, Parkes toured the burned-out service center with Washburn Director Chuck Porter.

Porter says they’re working with their insurance firm, Christian Brothers of Chicago. An adjuster has been out to inspect the property, with a final damage total to be announced in a few weeks.

The clients on this cold, windy day had a choice between the hot meal, which is served each Wednesday by a rotating lineup of churches and civic organizations, or grabbing a bag lunch out of the trailer that was installed on the grounds as a temporary facility.

Bishop Parkes, who had visited the Washburn Center prior to the fire, says the damage and devastation is shocking. But, he had praise for the outpouring of support that’s come in since, enabling services to be resumed only nine days after the blaze.

More information is available – or a donation can be made via PayPal – at alfredwashburn.org.