PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY)– Outside the Wesley Community Service Center, poverty, crime and despair are on display. Inside the former church building, decades of neglect permeate.

10 On Your Side called Mayor Shannon Glover Tuesday after the center’s executive director said a federal grant that had already been approved was stalled at City Hall.

“We’re still waiting on a grant application for the Community Development Block grant to be signed by the city manager so we can really get started on our building,” said Renyatta Banks, who has hosted fundraisers for the program. City Manager Tonya Chapman was fired early this year; Mimi Terry was named interim city manager.

“So when you called me … it was important for me to find out what was going on so I could provide an appropriate response,” Glover told 10 On Your Side.

He contacted Terry, who completed the grant process. Wednesday morning, a joyful Banks called 10 On Your Side to report the grant of $312,634 is a done deal.

The federal funds will be topped off by a $170,000 contribution from Rivers Casino Portsmouth.

Work will continue soon on a $500,000 renovation that will include a Head Start program and a program for teens. The Head Start program is scheduled to open this fall. The program for teens is expected to open in spring 2024.

It’s great news that comes too late for many families.

Asked how many people he knew had been killed since he was sworn in as mayor in 2021 – or if he knew the parents of those who had been killed – Glover said “it’s too numerous to count for me, and if it’s one, it’s too many.”

City leaders have held so-called reset walks in neighborhoods, and recently a prayer vigil was held in City Park. Glover’s inspiration includes a quote from Harriett Tubman, who guided slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad.

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“Don’t ever stop, keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going. That’s what motivates me every day,” Glover said. “I want a taste of freedom for all our people. I want them to have an opportunity for success and achievement and a better quality of life.”