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The spacious size of today's Lamrim Kadampa Buddhist Center in downtown Davenport is the first thing a visitor notices.

Situated at 3rd and Scott streets, the center's front door opens at an angle to the street, a welcoming addition to the religious location.

The Buddhist center was established five years ago upstairs in the building. Entrance in those days was off Scott Street, and a visitor climbed many steps to reach the upper level.

Now, that area is mainly for the center's children, while the downstairs was renovated by volunteers over the summer and now is handicapped-accessible.

"This space stood empty for years," Joe Gauthier, Buddhist teacher said.

The space for meditation has doubled in size as the base of operations moved downstairs. There is a shrine space, also twice as large as it was previously, and plenty of room for amenities, such as a bookstore, and crafts area.

While the center's volunteers are still working on the project to an extent, the meditation room features a royal blue wall behind the shrine. There also is exposed brick, which has been cleaned up nicely.

Two rows of chairs fit easily into the meditative space, and there is plenty of room for cushions and kneelers.

The shrine features Buddha. The smallish Buddha statue in place today will be replaced in December by one that is 3 feet tall, Gauthier said. It is flanked by other statues and religious items.

The sitting room and book store space adjoin the meditation room. These walls are painted in a deep gold, a color that symbolizes increasing wisdom, and prosperity, Gauthier said.

This area includes a book store, filled with books on meditation, and Buddhist teaching. 

Tea and water choices are stacked neatly together with a hot/cold water cooler.

Hard-to-find religious items are for sale and include mala, or Buddhist prayer beads, to go around necks, or sized for wrists. The latter choice is popular, Gauthier said.

In addition, the practitioners make their own kneeling cushions, and they also will fill statues on request, he said. "This shop area is pretty popular. It's hard to find these items somewhere else."

The bottom floor is filled out with a handicapped-accessible restroom and kitchenette.

Gauthier, who has recently returned from six weeks of Buddhist classes in Great Britain, noted the center will continue to use the upstairs area.

That is still under construction, and includes an office, bath, sleeping room, and two rooms for children, including a kids' meditation room and sitting area.

The center has attracted some new attention, including from Lou Blizek of Maquoketa, Iowa. Blizek knew about Buddhism before, but noticed the center and said it's been his first interaction with practicing Buddhists.

The center in fact has made him think about moving to Davenport, and he especially likes the noon-time meditation sessions.

For his part, Gauthier said the finished work is the result of many helpers. "A lot of volunteers worked really hard to do this."

The center offers classes on Buddhism and meditation in the Quad-Cities. There are day courses, retreats and chanted prayers. 

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