Youth center in Georgiana needs aid

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 31, 2007

A Georgiana citizen is doing her best to help the children and youth of her community.

She could use a helping hand along the way.

Mary Bellamy runs the Georgiana Children's Depot Youth Center, located on Washington Ave. across from the Georgiana Housing Authority.

The original Children's Depot was destroyed in a storm, and the present building was donated earlier this year for Bellamy's use.

While she is thrilled to have a place for the youngsters to gather, it took a lot of work to get the building in habitable shape, Bellamy's friend and supporter, Carolyn Griffin of Warrior Ministries, said.

&#8220This place needed a lot done to it before she could move in, and she still has needs,” Griffin said, as she gazed around the building on Thursday evening.

The marred wooden floor is partially covered with an old piece of carpeting; the Celotex overhead is darkened in patches with stains from leaks.

There are plenty of windows; unfortunately, &#8220you can't get any of

them up or down,” Bellamy said.

&#8220We could use some new windows.”

Bellamy, her assistant, Beverly Rue, and Griffin invited area civic and law enforcement officials to see the youth center Thursday night.

Butler County Commissioners Daniel Robinson, Jesse McWilliams, Sheriff Kenny Harden, Jail Administrator, Capt. Al McKee, and Georgiana City Councilman Robert Cheatham were all on hand to tour the facility, meet with the children and talk about the pressing needs of the center.

&#8220Our main goal here is to promote education and show the children it is not hard work all the time, it can be fun, too,” Bellamy said.

Currently, she averages 10-15 children and youth at her center each weekday after school. A variety of books, puzzles, and other educational and play materials are provided to the youngsters.

&#8220We have study time, tutoring, an exercise program. It is helping the kids at school,” Bellamy said, adding, &#8220Some of the kids have been pulling up their grades with the tutoring help.”

Harden asked how Bellamy keeps the center going.

&#8220Fundraisers are how we keep the center open. Sometimes it's slow, but it is enough to keep us operating,” Bellamy replied.

Griffin said there was someone working on grant proposals for the center. &#8220The money is there, but you have to be patient with grants and know it takes time,” Griffin said.

&#8220In the meantime,” Griffin added, &#8220Ms. Bellamy is helping these kids, but they definitely need some help with this building.”

Some of the needs pointed out by Griffin included repairs to the ceiling; fresh paint; linoleum for the floors and movable partitions to allow separation of the older and younger children.

&#8220I would imagine there would be folks out there who could donate some of these goods and services,” Harden said.

&#8220I would encourage parents to take a part and help out, too. After all, these children are the future of the community.”

Another concern: a kitchen is needed to allow the center to continue its summer feeding program, which kicks off the second week in June.

&#8220This is a really important program in the community and I would hate to see us lose it,” Griffin said.

Since space is at a premium in the center, Harden suggested obtaining a sturdy storage unit, attaching it to the building and turning it into a kitchen.

Of course, such an addition requires money, and Griffin said &#8220several good fundraisers” would be planned to help achieve that goal.

One of those already planned is happening at 11 a.m., May 5 at Hank Williams Park in Georgiana.

&#8220We are having a Youth Explosion that day, with steppers, praise dancers, singers and other groups performing,” Bellamy said.

&#8220We hope a lot of people will come out and support us that day.”

A youth center-sponsored event &#8220strictly for fun,” Griffin said, is the upcoming community-wide Easter egg hunt, slated for 10 a.m. on April 7 in the park area on North Palmer Ave.

&#8220Mary has worked hard for a long time to help the children of Georgiana, and we need to see what we can do to help her in return,” Griffin said.

Anyone wishing to make a monetary contribution to the youth center may sent their check to: Georgiana Children's Depot Youth Center, 230 Washington Ave., P.O. Box 741, Georgiana, AL 36033.

Anyone with materials or supplies they wish to donate to the center, or who would like to volunteer their services, should contact Mary Bellamy at (334) 376-2505 or Elethiana Mobley at (334) 376-2772.