Residents Pitch In For New Youth Center In Eufaula

Saturday, September 9th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Residents in the Eufaula area have spent two years working on a project that will benefit abused children.

More than a thousand people gave their time and sweat to create a place in Eufaula where children and families can find help and healing.

The center was built by neighbors, and not with tax dollars.

Scrubbing the walls was, by far, the easy part.

When the volunteers started a little more than two years ago, most of the ceiling was destroyed.

Many people said this old nursing home in Eufaula couldn't be revived.

“Quite frankly, I never thought this could be transformed into what this is now," says Greg Contreras, Executive Director, Youth Emergency Shelter.

The leaders of the project are now showing off the old nursing home. It's the new 10-thousand square foot home of several agencies and counselors who help abused children.

In the past, many families had to leave the county to get help.

Now, the counseling they need is under one roof.

"When you have to pull a child out of the community it separates your ability to work one-on-one with the child and the family. Without being able to alleviate the problems in the home, you’re simply casting the child back into the same situation," says Contreras. "I didn't have any doubt we could do it."

The dream of the McIntosh County Youth and Family Education Center came from Juvenile Judge Gene Mowery.

They did it without any taxes.

“How do we do it without taxes get people involved, get churches involved and find a project that is worthwhile," says Mowery.

He likes to deflect the credit to the hundreds and hundreds of people who donated their time, money, sweat and personal belongings to build the center.

And the donations didn't stop with the building. There is a fully stocked clothes closet and a food pantry.

"The communities are still together. It's just finding something that wants to make them pull together. And this has made them want to get together," says Mowery.

Judge Mowery says it's a sign that an old fashion community effort can still be alive in the 21st century.

The McIntosh county Youth and Family Education Center will also serve as the new home to the Eufaula police department and jail.