Community Action plans youth center

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BELOIT — Community Action, Inc. of Rock and Walworth counties is expanding its programs to include a young adult center in Beloit.

The new center will be housed in the Eclipse Center, near Community Action’s current Beloit offices.

The 7,000-square-foot expansion will be located in the former Cardinal Stritch College space and will house a gym, recording studio and kitchen area, in addition to office space and classrooms. Corporate Contractors Inc. (CCI) will begin renovating the space soon.

The Young Adult Center is expected to open Jan. 1, 2017. It is intended to be a place where young people can be safe and productive, officials say.

“There’s not a lot of structured activities for youth in high school, the age we are targeting,” said Cecilia Dever, Community Action’s executive director. “The center will serve the dual purpose of accommodating social interaction as well as educational and job training programming all in a safe and supervised environment.”

Those at Community Action first saw the need for the new space when their mentoring groups for high school students started growing. The mentoring program met after school on Mondays and Wednesdays, and included dinner for the students as well as homework help.

Dever said the groups were so popular they attracted upwards of 40-50 students who came seeking a place to do homework, have a listening ear and get a good meal.

Once the center is completed, Dever said students will be able to work out in the center’s new gym or try out the music studio following their mentorship meetings. They will be able to stay until 7 p.m.

Dever also said Community Action has expanded its Fatherhood Initiative and launched the Transitional Jobs program, requiring more space. The new space will also be used for Fresh Start programming or a place where people can meet and interact.

The new center will have a kitchen which will make providing meals to the mentoring program easier for volunteers. Dinner has been purchased in the past and/or brought in by partnering churches. With the new kitchen, food could be made on site by volunteers. The space can also help teach food service skills to youth involved in Community Action programming.

Dever said Community Action received funding from Rock County Inner City funds to help support the mentoring program as well as donations from the Women’s Fund to help support the youth in the female mentoring program.

Dever said there have been volunteers helping to provide meals to the mentoring program and helping with homework, but more are always needed. For more information interested individual may contact Dever at 608-313-1210.

Community Action offers community programs aimed at preventing and reducing local poverty in Rock and Walworth counties. It operates the Fresh Start program, offers child care, at-risk youth programming, health care, senior benefits counseling, homeownership programs, affordable housing units, home weatherization and rehab, assistance in dealing with a housing crisis, food for area pantries and shelter for the homeless.

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