Community center trying to keep kids off streets

Individuals gather at the 14th Street Community Center on Saturday afternoon to help raise money for their current programs.

The 14th Street Community Center in Portsmouth is doing all that it can in the fight against addiction. The center held a fundraiser Saturday June 17th to raise money for their current programs and for programs that they hope to extend to their newest location at the 17th Street Learning Annex. The fundraiser included music from several local musicians and a variety of home cooked food.

“We’re adjacent to the two largest housing projects in Scioto County,” Vice President of the 14th Street Community Center Board, John Valentine said. “And we hope that through our fundraiser to start programs for the Wayne Hills kids, like we do for the Farley Square kids. We want to extend our reach to Wayne Hills.”

The community center currently hosts after school programs and summer programs for kids. They also have a weight room for kids to lift weights in, and this winter, they plan to start AAU basketball in their gymnasium.

“We are starting AAU programs in the winter for basketball for boys and girls because we are losing some of our kids to the streets before they can play school ball,” Valentine said.

Their summer program, sponsored by the counseling center has 135 children in attendance. In the program, the kids have discussions about drug abuse and drug dealing and they participate in activities during the day to keep them occupied.

Valentine says that although anyone can use drugs, the kids that they come in contact with are the most likely to become drug traffickers.

“So we are certainly pushing ‘Let’s never use drugs’ to begin with, but also we have this added issue of not losing our kids to the streets as dealers,” Valentine said.

Helen Adams, who has been involved with the community center for more than 30 years says that the center is a pillar for the community.

“I’ve watched kids come through this center and it’s been a blessing for the kids to be able to come after school, and I think its kept a lot of them out of trouble,” Adams said. “And everyone just knows the center, you know.”

President of the community center, Orville Ferguson Jr. says that he hopes that they are catching the kids young enough and making an impact on their lives.

“It’s an endless thing, but still if we get a few then we’ve achieved our goal,” Ferguson said.

The community center’s main source of income is from the BINGO nights that they hold at the 17th Street Learning Annex on Wednesday and Friday nights from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

To make a donation to the 14th Street Community Center, call John Valentine at (740) 464-5373.