‘Blessing To The Community’

Published 7:00 pm Sunday, November 28, 2010

Area teens can dust off their sneakers and work on their LeBronJames impersonations. The Alexander Teen Center, located behindAlexander Junior High School, officially re-opened its doorsSaturday with music, food and guest speakers.

“It brings back memories to see this building light up again,”said Terry Bates, Ward Two alderman and former point guard forAlexander High School. “This is going to be a blessing to thecommunity.”

Before the building could be a blessing, it took the work ofCAFE A+, along with help from the community, to allow lay-ups andjump shots to happen.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The building had been closed for roughly six to eight years,according to CAFE A+ President Steven Keys. He mentioned thebuilding was in poor shape and the floor was completely sunken inwhen his organization received the deed in 2005.

However, after roughly $18,000 in renovations, which thecommunity mostly funded, the court is ready for action again.

“Hopefully it’ll last another 60 years,” said Keys.

Keys mentioned the center will be open for sixth-graders to highschool students two hours after school for three days a week in thebeginning, but he hopes the center’s days of operation will expandwith the help of volunteers.

“It’s going to take the community,” said Keys. “Throughcommunity participation, that’s the only way it’s going towork.”

Keys also said children will exercise their minds for one hourbefore participating in any activities. After children are donewith schoolwork, they will be allowed to play and socialize.

“We saw a need in the community, somewhere where the childrencould go,” Keys said.

In addition to sports and education, the center will also host asocial event for area children once a month. The first teen centerdance is scheduled for Dec. 17.

To members of the community, the building is more than just arecreational facility. It is a safe place for children and a placethat can play an instrumental role in their development as youngadults.

“With the recent events in town – the murders, the crimedowntown – the children didn’t have anywhere to go,” said Keys.”We’re doing our part to keep children off the street, or at leastgive them an option.”

Those in attendance echoed the same thoughts as Keys.

“It’s so important that these kids have some sort offoundation,” said volunteer Vernastine Byrd. “Even if it’s nothingmore than fellowship and learning to get along with oneanother.”

If it takes a village to raise a child, then the youth ofBrookhaven are in good hands. The large crowd that gathered was infull support of the re-opening of the teen center.

“I’m glad to see it open and we hope the kids take advantage ofthis,” said Brookhaven Police Chief Pap Henderson. “The BrookhavenPolice Department will do anything we can to support them.”

While some may think the teen center will only benefit a few,Bates thinks the hard work and dedication that went into re-openingthe building is an example all could learn from.

“Not just in this ward, but every ward – give the kids somethingto do,” said Bates. “This is going to help the whole city.”