|By Tiffany Stamper
When Connie Richardson, an
employee at Comprehend Inc., moved from Louisville, she saw that the youth of Lewis County
have a problem.
She became concerned with the poverty level, the drug problems and the instances of
teenage pregnancies in the county and decided that something needed to be done.
Richardson came together with other citizens such as Ann Royster, Jim Vaden, Rob Hall,
Johnna Hord and Kevin Duff to attempt to start the first youth organization in the county
-- the Boys and Girls Club. A community meeting was held August 7 to discuss the initial
plans for this program.
The result of the meeting was surprising -- with more than 20 citizens willing to
assist in getting the club up and running.
John Alesch, Regional Service Director for Boys and Girls Club of America, was also
present. He has a positive attitude about the possibility of starting the youth center.
Alesch was given a tour of the potential building site of the club and was excited about
helping to start the program.
It is easy to see that Lewis County has a need for a youth center. The statistics are
shocking -- 75.8 percent of students qualify for free and reduced lunches, 68 percent of
children are welfare recipients, and 36 percent of children live below poverty level.
Also, an amazing 65 percent of the adult population has no high school diploma.
Many parents travel out of the county for employment, creating the need for structured,
safe youth activities. There are currently no existing theaters, arcades, swimming pools,
soccer programs or equipment, golf or bowling facilities in which youth can be engaged.
All of these factors create an environment in which most children and youth cannot
reach their full potential as human beings and as citizens of Lewis County.
The first steps have been taken to start a community
center in Vanceburg. If everything goes as planned, the center will be located in the
building located at the corner of Front and Court Streets, directly across from the park.
The building is now owned by the Vanceburg Methodist Church and is known as Harmany
House, named for the late Allan Harman. The youth in the church use the building for
games, activities and fellowship.
"We have a building to work with," says Vaden, minister at Vanceburg
Methodist Church, "and that puts us 10 steps ahead of a lot of other
Some of the core programs that the youth will be engaged in while being part of the
organization include character and leadership development, education and career
development, health and life skills, the arts, sports, fitness and recreation. The club
will offer many activities to learn new skills, tutoring and sports programs.
The biggest hurdle for the steering committee to overcome is obtaining the funding.
"We have applied for a grant of $20,000 from the Hayswood Foundation," said
The committee is also looking at the possibility of becoming a satellite of The Boys
and Girls Club of Maysville, where that organization would absorb most of the initial
costs of the program and provide trained, professional staff members and their salaries.
For more information or to volunteer help, contact a member of the steering committee:
Ann Royster, 606-796-2166; Jim Vaden, 606-796-2222; Rob Hall, 606-564-3180; Connie
Richardson, 606-796-0180; of Kevin Duff, 606-798-4601.