When the Young Citizens Activity Center quietly closed its doors on C Street in mid-October, it might have been difficult to see a bright future for the center. The building was in desperate need of repairs and it was under new leadership.
But now six weeks later, the YCAC is back. The building is repaired and Barbara Owens, Mineral County Recreation Coordinator/YCAC director, has high hopes the center will roar back to life.
“As a new director I have the task of being a community leader for our youth,” Owens said. “My goal is to have a safe haven that provides a good environment for children. Keep them active, keep them interested in sports and other activities.”
But Owens’ goals aren’t confined to keeping the youth engaged. She said she hopes to bring the community together with activities for everyone, like an adult softball league and ceramic and quilting classes.
“I want to tap into our community’s talent,” Owens said. “I know that we have a lot of painters, artists of different kinds. I know that we have a lot of really talented individuals living here in Mineral County and I encourage them to come out, come down, talk to me, and get people moving and involved.”
The center is also a practice facility for all the YCAC sports, and a fund raising facility for community organizations that need it.
But the youth focused activities have not suffered because of Owens’ goals to unite the community.
Owens said basketball and cheerleading practice started on Dec. 9, and Mineral County youth have shown a strong interest in both programs.
The YCAC is a longtime staple in Hawthorne. The center has an open gym, as well as pool tables, air hockey tables, and ping-pong tables. Owens also said there will be snacks for the kids.
“It’s just a real safe, warm environment that kids can gather at and parents know their safe and they’re involved in activities at the same time,” Owens said.
Owens also hopes to emphasize the importance of reading to the youth at YCAC. She mentioned several times that she was adding a library to the center, and frequently stressed the importance of getting lost in a book.
“Reading is very important to me and I know that it’s been laid aside [by children],” Owens said. “[…] So I’m going to be adding a lot of books to the YCAC.”
She said she wants to use the YCAC sports programs to encourage scholastic achievement, hoping to require young athletes to maintain “decent grades.”
Additionally starting on Jan. 6, the YCAC will have a free before and after school program for parents who need a safe place to for their children to stay while the parents work. Parents can drop off their children as early as 6 a.m. and Owens said the center will take the children to the school for breakfast at 8 a.m.
After school the center will pick the children up and keep them
“During that program I will be providing snacks and meals for the children and whatever is needed during that too,” Owens said. “We’ll have a lot of structured activities and I’m really excited about that.”