The Twin Cities Kids Coalition is seeking donations to convert a former Uhrichsville business into a community youth center. Student leaders Samantha Mann (left) and Sarah Beam (right) are pictured in the group's current headquarters inside the Uhrichsville Church of the Nazarene. (Photo by Stacey Carmany)

Uhrichsville, Ohio - The Twin Cities Kids Coalition is seeking donations to help them renovate a former Uhrichsville business into a community youth center.

Coordinator Wendy Mann says they’re planning to buy the former Dollar General building on the corner of East Third and North Uhrich streets and convert it into a fun and safe place for local students to hang out and stay out of trouble. 

"There’s a whole group of kids that are just like, ‘There’s just nothing in town for us to do, so we have no other choice but to end up getting into trouble,’or whatever the case may be because they’re bored, they’re lonely and they go to do whatever is fun. If that’s a bad choice then they’re still going to do it because they don’t know any other means," she says.

Mann says the group already has an agreement with the property owner to purchase the building. Now, it’s just a matter of raising the funds. 

"We’re going to go to other agencies and see about partnering with them and making this a county project, making this where everybody can help out that knows what’s going on deeper than you and I,” she says. "And if we do that, then I know that our next generation will have a different outcome.” 

Mann says they don’t yet know how much it will cost to purchase and renovate the building, but she says it definitely won’t be cheap. 

“There’s maintenance that needs done and that type of thing, and then other red tape that comes along with anything you’re doing good, so there’s always something. We’re still working on it. It was just overwhelming to find somebody who was willing to work with us,” she says.

Mann says they’re seeking grant opportunities to help them purchase and renovate the facility.  They’re also looking for donations to help them furnish the building, and Mann says it will be up to the group’s student leaders to decide what goes inside. 

“It’s not just us adults because we make it where the kids have their own say. So if the kids don’t like something, because essentially that is what this is for is for the kids. We can put anything in there, but they may not like it," she says.

Mann says the Dennison Rotary Club has shown their support for the cause by electing her as their new president and making the group’s youth center their 2019 community project. She says they’ve also received help from the Dover Rotary Club, Aleris, and the City of Uhrichsville.

“We really have such a great community that everybody’s been like, ‘Hey, what can we do for you?’ ‘Do you need help with this?’ ‘Do you need me to help you with that?’ or ‘Do you need that?’,” she says. “Everybody has been really amazing, and again, it's just that self-esteem boost that projects back to the kids.”

Mann says people can learn more about the project and what they can do to help by finding the Twin Cities Kids Coalition on Facebook, emailing or calling 740-922-6698. She says the group is hoping to get into the building and start working in March or April. 

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