Businesses pool resources to revitalize Waltham Salvation Army

Joyce Kelly

Capt. Johnson Germaine, who runs the Waltham Salvation Army and its after-school program, recalled having a conversation with a local businessman about improving the organization's property.

"One day, I came here (to the Salvation Army building), and someone was taking the sign down," Germaine recalled, shaking his head and smiling.

The businessman, Wayne Brasco Sr., who co-owns Brasco and Sons Memorial Chapel on Moody Street, had hired people to take the Salvation Army's sign down, repaint it, sharpen the image and reinstall it, Germaine said.

"I know it cost some bucks just to take it down," Germaine said, remembering the crane that was used to remove it from the top of the building at 33 Myrtle St.

Germaine was delighted to learn that Brasco had other plans for helping out with the property.

"I'm one of those guys, I'm not great at helping, but I know who to get. Germaine was in dire need of having that property cleaned up -- it was in tough shape," Brasco said.

"I called the landscaper (John Nicolazzo of John Nicolazzo & Son Landscaping Construction in Newton), and asked if he could work for Jesus. I tried to guilt him up. I told him, 'The Salvation Army needs your help,"' Brasco recalled.

It worked.

Nicolazzo leveled the land behind the Salvation Army's building, removed asphalt, and seeded the area, Germaine said.

Gary McKenzie, who runs the Quick and Clean Car Wash on Lexington Street, repaired the sign.

Richard and Ronald Cincotta of Cincotta Companies on Lexington Street donated two trailer loads of loam.

And when a brake line went on the 18-wheeler carrying the loam, Greg LeBlanc, who owns Waltham Auto Tow, tore up the $1,200 towing bill "for Jesus," Brasco said, laughing at the effectiveness of another top-notch guilt trip.

"I just love the Salvation Army - they're the greatest people in the world. There's a lot of great charities out there, but I just love the Salvation Army," Brasco said.

Germaine called the improvements "a dramatic change."

"When I first came here a year ago, it was just full of things - broken branches and garbage and dead grass. They picked everything up, they took the trash, leveled it, and now we have nice green grass," Germaine said.

Now the 22 kids, ages 6 to 13, who participate in the Salvation Army's after-school program have a nice, safe place to play.

The children study after school, have a snack, learn on computers and are offered enrichment programs like training on the piano and drums, Germaine said.

Then they get to play outside.

The seeds Nicolazzo planted this summer have already sprouted into lush grass, and the children use it "all the time" and love to play on it, Germaine said.

"It's just a place for them to run and play ball, Hula-Hoop, football, whatever. It's just an opportunity for them to play in an area that's safe for them and supervised by adults," he said.

Nicolazzo also provided landscaping in front of the building, and returned twice to make sure everything was OK, Germaine said.

"It was all done free of charge - I didn't have to cough up a penny," he said. "It was just their gift to the community. We truly appreciate it."

Daily News Tribune writer Joyce Kelly can be reached at 781-398-8005 or jkelly@cnc.com.