Thomson youth center in pre-planning stages, services for at risk and vulnerable kids

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THOMSON, Ga. (WJBF) – An organization in McDuffie County is in the pre-planning stages of building a youth center. The goal, at this point, is to to tap more supporters for funding.

The Thomson community has spoken for the past few years about the need to keep kids out of trouble, including being arrested. One local organization believes it has the answer.

“I work in health care, so it’s always about prevention, prevention. It always cost more to treat a problem than it does to prevent the problem,” said Tabitha Rogers, Financial Officer for Our Children’s Village.

She is part of a growing movement to provide a solution for kids in need and at risk throughout McDuffie County.

“If we can get the buy in of the prevention of drugs, prevention of gun violence, the prevention of domestic violence. If we can get the buy in to prevent some of these things, it will benefit our community as a whole,” Rogers said.

And a more wholesome town is what brought Rogers, Kimberly Usry and Pastor Rodney Lockett to the table. The solution came from Usry, a former Department of Juvenile Justice employee who told NewsChannel 6 she got an up close and personal look at how much danger children are in today.

“One of the kids on our case load was involved in a domestic violence relationship with another child and that child got murdered,” she recalled.

That was all she needed to get the ball rolling, bringing stakeholders together such as local law enforcement, religious organizations, counselors and of course, youth, around a dinner table back in 2018. The annual event produced answers from children and adults alike about the need for resources for kids. So, Usry created The Cornerstone Youth & Community Multi-Complex Center, a social, safe gathering place targeting at risk and vulnerable youth.

“We would need a minimum of $2 million,” Usry said. “That’s for the land, the building, the construction, the equipment, the services.”

She is hoping for federal dollars mostly, grants and any other benefactors. Services would be geared toward people ages 9-21 and other membership based programs, such as a boxing club and culinary classes. There are plans to also partner with Augusta Tech to offer vocational training and the local YMCA. All the needs were spelled out in a survey Pastor Lockett distributed through The Rock Ministries of Thomson, Incorporated.

“The children, gangs, teenage pregnancy,” said Locket, who is also Mt. Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church Pastor. “They have trust issues. Some have issues at home that they don’t want to talk to the pastor about.”

Usry is working on where the youth center will go in Thomson. Again, that will depend on her organization securing a minimum of $2 Million.

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