HD Youth Center Needs More Volunteers for New Facility

By Dave Franzman, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - A popular after-school site for kids to hang out and do homework opened in a new home last fall in Cedar Rapids, but he HD Youth Center needs more willing hands to help out with the kids. Without extra donated help, organizers say they can't start up at least one of the programs they promised.

The HD Youth Center, 1445 Mt. Vernon Rd. SE, reopened in a new permanent home last October. The original youth center, which was started in 1997 by founder Henry Davison, was lost to the flood of 2008. Organizers tried to keep programming alive in a temporary home at the Jane Boyd Community Center, but some of the volunteers who spent time with kids there simply went on to other things.

Tammy Mims, center director, said an open house taking place Thursday afternoon had a couple of purposes. One was to thank the contractors and laborers who donated material and effort to convert the old laundromat to safe place for kids to use in after-school programming. The other idea was to encourage the visitors seeing the new facility to come back and help out on a more regular basis.

Mims said the one program the center can't offer yet is a breakfast for both kids and adults. It was supposed to start December 1, 2013.

"Just not enough volunteers, and we need volunteers to serve breakfast to the homeless. So that's what we're looking for," Mims said.

Mims said she can only count on about six volunteers on a regular basis to help tutor and mentor the 25 to 30 kids who turn out, on average, for the afternoon programming that includes an evening meal. That doesn't leave enough to open the building in the morning for breakfast. Mims is the only paid staffer.

Founder Henry Davison said at the old youth center, in what's now the NewBo area, at least 20 volunteers a day helped with the morning and afternoon programs. One board member, Deb Abernathey, said the transition from the old center to the new building may have taken too long to keep people involved.

"People forget, we've been impacted by the flood. People move on, life changes and they move out of the city or have other causes," she said.

Mims said like any nonprofit, the HD Youth Center could use more than just people to donate time. Financing is always an issue and the organization still owes about $15,000 on the new building. She said with more people willing to help out, members could do more to keep kids off the streets.
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