Youth Center provides safe haven for teens

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 26, 2007

Free concert May 26

By Regina Grayson

The former beauty shop and tanning salon on the corner of 6th Street and Barbara Street in Luverne has been transformed into a &#8220safe environmentŠ.a place where children and teens are going to be loved and cared for.”

According to Ron Hackathorn, &#8220It's all about the kids.”

&#8220So many of our children have fallen through the cracks, especially those aged 18 to 21,” he said. &#8220We offer a place where teens can find love and acceptance right where they are.”

Ron Hackathorn and his wife Joanna are the directors of Love Inc. Youth Center. They had their Open House March 3. Since then, they have provided free concerts with different Christian music groups for teens.

&#8220We have a lot of exciting things we are looking forward to,” Hackathorn said.

One of the first things they are seeking is two volunteers, a male and a female, who are or who have been in the National Guard. These volunteers are needed in order to help with a scouting program for boys and girls, one which will teach respect, honor and character.

&#8220We also want to start summer activity programs, and we need volunteers for those, as well,” he said.

Hackathorn and his wife have been in the ministry for over 30 years. Love Inc. Youth Center is the next step in their walk of life.

Right now, funding for the center is through local businesses and individuals.

&#8220We have a no-cost policy,” he explained. &#8220Everything is supplied by donations, that way, everything is free for the children and the parents.”

At the concerts, teens can enjoy free pizza and drinks.

Even though the center is only open from 7 until 10 p.m. on Saturdays, Hackathorn added that when school begins in August, they plan to start an after-school program from 3 until 6 p.m., where kids will be given free snacks, have help with their homework and have extra activities.

&#8220But we can't do it without volunteers,” he said. &#8220We feel that after-school programs are that important.”

Their plans also include a hope to soon purchase the property and build a 50 x 100 ft. community gymnasium. It will have a platform on one end for concerts and restrooms on the other end.

&#8220We also would like to put a playground area in for the neighborhood children,” Hackathorn said.

The center currently has a full advisory board, which includes Dr. Charles Thompkins, Lomax Byrd, Pastor Steve Defee, Pastor Mike Green and Sybil Bryan.

&#8220We believe in the community,” he said. &#8220Plus, we believe in investing in the community. It is so important for people to get involved with the kids.”

&#8220We are committed to this,” Hackathorn added. &#8220This is what God has told us to do.”

For more information about becoming a volunteer or making a donation to the center, please call 429-1303 or 527-0050.

On May 26, the Ben Nelson Band from Greenville will perform at 7 p.m. for those aged 12 to 21 at the youth center. Free pizza and drinks will be served.