For over a half century, the building that Frontline Outreach occupies has been used to serve the youth and families of Washington Shores and Central Florida. Clarity of hindsight makes this building’s purpose so very consistent and apparent from its origin, to its present and beyond, which is simply– to serve. Over the years the baton of leadership has moved with the times with each iteration seemingly providing exactly in the moment, what the community and facility required. Initially the building was home to The Roosevelt Bowling Lanes, offering families in the black community a venue to relax and recreate. Sadly, after an unfortunate fire, the bowling alley was shuttered.
In 1951, Dr. James R. Smith (one of only five medical physicians serving the 40,000 person geographically spread out African American community), during the times of sweltering Central Florida racial segregation, established a safe and hygienic medical facility for African American women to give birth, known as a “Lying In Hospital.” It was also Dr. James R. Smith, who with the help of others, founded Florida’s first and only Black owned savings and loan institution. Dr. Smith additionally rallied the board of the Washington Shores Federal Savings and Loan Association and friends of the community to support his pursuit of purchasing and renovating the burned Roosevelt Bowling Lanes to house his dream of providing a building of refuge to address the community’s childcare needs. In 1967 he established W.S.A.R. (The Washington Shores Association for Recreation) to carry his dream forward.
Through the endeavors of Dr. Smith to seek charitable contributions and the securing of financing through the Washington Shores Federal Savings and Loan Association, the acquisition of a burned and abandoned bowling alley would now be the home of W.S.A.R. Dr. Smith continued to work to expand the services and impact the lives of children and families until his death.