By Betsy Finklea
Providing a safe haven for the youth in Dillon County to learn and grow is the goal of the Dillon County Boys and Girls Youth Center.
The organization was founded in 2013 and is led by Kenneth Smith, President, and Bishop Eugene Campbell, founder. In September 2014, they received their 501(c) 3 status. They have been looking for areas to build a building and have found a general location in the Walmart area, which they believe will provide easy access to the center. They are working with an architect.
The goal of the center is not just to serve the children of Dillon, but to serve youth countywide.
Even though they do not have a building yet, they have not let that stop them from moving ahead with programming.
In January, they held a free FAFSA workshop to help students properly fill out the paperwork needed to receive financial aid for college.
In March, they held a history program to honor World War II veterans and had a Tuskegee Airman present at the program.
In April, they held a workshop on resume writing and dressing for success.
During the school year, they visited Stewart Heights and East Elementary to read to the 4K-5K students as part of the Buddy and Benjamin Literacy Program. Each student was given a book to start or add to their home library.
They plan to do that again in the coming school year, but will call the program Ruby and Rose in honor of two well-known educators, Ruby Carter and the late Rosanna King.
They have applied for grants from the SAFE program which is aimed at preventing teenage pregnancy, but these grants are not awarded until September; however, if they do not receive it, they still have other avenues.
The Center has collaborated with the Dillon District Four Schools, Committee for Concerned Citizens, Healthy Start, Dillon County First Steps, and Purposely Driven LLC.
They have made presentations to the Dillon City Council and Dillon County Council in hopes of getting financial backing, but have not received any as of yet. They have also written letters to government officials.
They are working out of two churches for their summer feeding program – Saving Grace Temple of Deliverance and Manning Baptist Church.
They also participated in the Newtown Festival where they gave out information on the youth center.
One can find the center on social media or visit their website, www.dilloncountyboysandgirlsyouthcenter.com.
By Betsy Finklea