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TMCNet:  Pine Grove Community Center seeks volunteers for more hours

[January 31, 2013]

Pine Grove Community Center seeks volunteers for more hours

PINE GROVE, Jan 31, 2013 (Republican & Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- More volunteers are needed for the Pine Grove Community Center to expand its hours.

Opened May 16, 2012, the center provides a place for children to socialize in a safe environment, said Cody Holden, director/founder of the center. Volunteer April Warner said the center, open to those in fourth through 12th grade, gives those there a chance to be with other children.

"They're free to just be kids," she said Tuesday as she sat on a couch playing the game Angry Birds on her iPad. She kept an eye on her son, Billy, and daughter, Destyni Stahl, 12.

The center currently has 10 volunteers. It is open from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday but would like to expand its hours "one or two days a week and Saturday," Holden said.

Anyone interested in volunteering is asked to stop by the borough hall to fill out information.

When the center opened, five children showed up but now, about 30 children are there when the center is open. It was originally known as Unleashed Youth Ministries.

After a mission trip to Haiti in 2010, Holden, a member of the Pine Grove Wesleyan Church, decided he wanted make an impact in his own community.

"We kind of sometimes neglect the people in our own backyard," he said.

Church members along with members of Roedersville Mennonite Church and others helped fix up the approximately 2,700-square-foot building that sat vacant for two years. Painting, other cosmetic work and installing bathrooms were just some of the additions that took about four months.

The Pine Grove Wesleyan Church holds the month-to-month lease for the building from Polston Enterprises, Pine Grove. The center pays rent for use of the building.

Children at the center have the opportunity to play video games, kickball, air hockey, darts and some were even kicking around an improvised hacky sack Tuesday that was actually a green shuttlecock from a badminton game.

The center has three LED TVs and an audio system, three video game systems -- a Wii, Xbox and Playstation 3 -- an air hockey table, electronic dartboard, foosball table and furniture. Refreshments are also provided for the children.

Some children used window markers to write messages and draw pictures on the windows on the front of the building at 7 Mill Race St., Pine Grove.

Billy Warner, 9, a third-grade student in the Pine Grove Area School District, stood inside on a wide ledge, his mother nearby, and used a white marker to draw a face that he said was supposed to invite people inside.

Kirby White, 14, an eighth-grade student at Pine Grove Area Middle School, was relaxing with two other girls on the couch while Josiah Fultz, 14, and Warner took turns throwing darts at the dart board.

Even Pine Grove Borough Mayor Kimberly Brown-Zerbe was there Tuesday.

She was doing her best along with others to kick the substitute hacky sack and keep it off the floor.

She said the center is good for the community.

"Pretty much this is the place where we let the kids come and get loud and silly," Brown-Zerbe said.

That doesn't mean rules are not enforced. Fighting, foul language and inappropriate attire are prohibited.

"We wanted to provide a safe environment for the kids to be able to be kids without the influence of drugs or alcohol," Holden said.

Monetary donations would also be appreciated for items like refreshments. Donations can be sent to P.O. Box 34, Pine Grove, PA 17963. Checks should be made payable to the Pine Grove Youth Center.

___ (c)2013 the Republican & Herald (Pottsville, Pa.) Visit the Republican & Herald (Pottsville, Pa.) at republicanherald.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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