Hopewell Community Center
When we moved into our property in early 2009, we found an old, broken-up, weed-filled basketball court to the east of the main building. It had suffered decades of neglect and was entirely impractical for any sort of recreational use. But the sight of the dilapidated chain link fence surrounding it didn’t prevent us from seeing it’s potential.
Early on, we knew that part of our move into the neighborhood was to provide hospitality to our neighbors. This has manifested itself in a variety of ways over the years, but providing a place for young people to have healthy outlets for social activities and exercise has been a priority along the way.
Our first move was to install 6 new basketball goals and resurface the court to make it usable for youth growing up looking for a place to play as they reach their teenage years.
As the work happened, kids started to come around. Riding bikes and skateboards and shooting basketball became a common sight, and these activities have continued to develop more over time. More recently, we built ramps for a skate park and began attracting even more kids from their homes to this common recreational area.
As plans for a more expansive community center take place, we have divided the shop building on our campus to have a large area full of activities for youth to participate in throughout the year - regardless of the weather conditions. This has provided a consistent social venue for many neighborhood youth.
Nearly every weekday afternoon, youth gather on the sports field, basketball court or in the community center to let out some energy after a long day at school. The facility has also been a venue utilized by our after-school program.
As the weather warms up, we are excited for a new season to work with the youth in the neighborhood to help provide activities where they can learn to cooperate as sports teams, develop hands-on skills, and simply have fun together.
The community center will also host to a variety of activities for this summer’s Camp Skillz, an 8-week character and skills camp oriented towards giving organized summer activities for children and youth in the neighborhood.
Remember being a kid? For most of us, we didn’t have to look for places that were designed specifically for us whether parks, sports fields, playgrounds, or even a community center. Someone had children in mind when our environment was constructed. Hopewell, though, wasn’t designed as much as it just happened. It was a place where black families could settle without interfering with those from the other side of the tracks. Through the years, almost 100 now, the neighborhood has gone through changes, improvements, growth, decline, and now a resurgence. But for a neighborhood to thrive, it has to consider the next generation--the children. It is our plan to repurpose our buildings and utilize land we have to provide for children. In the years to come, we can envision when someone from Hopewell is asked, “Remember being a kid?” they will respond with fondness as they recall time spent on the sports fields, playground, and in the community center. And that is worth all the sacrifice it takes to make this community center a reality!
It is with the children in mind that we boldly ask: Won’t you help?
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