BUCKHANNON – Members of the Stockert Youth & Community Center Board didn’t mince words Thursday night, as they received the latest major donation – this time from the Buckhannon Rotary Club.
“We hope to do a groundbreaking soon,” said longtime SYCC board member Don Nestor, thanking the club, and specifically president Mary Dean and community service chair Sharla Smith for a $10,000 contribution.
The Rotary Club came to Buckhannon City Council’s meeting Thursday to present the city with a $10,000 pledge/check to be added to the capital campaign for a new multi-purpose gymnasium/auditorium addition to the youth center.
Dean said she’d done some research and recently learned the cornerstone for the East Main Street School – which now houses SYCC – had been set April 26, 1909.
“So, in April, it will be 110 years since that cornerstone was set, and … about 24 years ago, it became the Stockert Youth Center.”
Dean explained Rotary’s board had approved a $10,000 funding request at its March 11 monthly meeting, mentioning that Rotary has five areas of service – international, club, community, vocational and youth.
Mayor David McCauley thanked the club, saying the city would “soon realize” the forthcoming addition to the SYCC.
Nestor said, “From our standpoint, we’re longtime members of the Stockert Youth and Community Center Board of Directors. It’s something that we have been very pleased and very blessed to be involved in all the efforts you all [expended] to keep this center going. We’ve had thousands of kids go through that center.”
Nestor noted it’s a building on Main Street that’s in “great shape” and not run-down, and it’s not about to be torn down.
“We’ve had a lot of support from people in the community as well as students from Wesleyan, the college … and what we’re here about tonight is to celebrate a good thing and also to recognize the fundraising we’re in the process of doing for a new multi-purpose gymnasium,” he said. “We hope to do a groundbreaking here soon.”
Dr. Rob Rupp, also a longtime SYCC board member, said Joyce Stockert is proof one person’s generous gift can crucially improve the lives of many.
“The question is, can one person make a difference? And Joyce (Stockert) did when she decided she was going invest in kids in our community,” Rupp said. “Can thousands of kids benefit from that youth center? We saw it. And will the community rally around to support and extend the advantages to our kids, we’re going to see that, too. It’s a positive, great day for the community and for the kids.”
Rupp and Nestor noted more than 1,000 children had participated in SYCC programs in the month of February alone, logging 12,000 youth involvement hours in the center’s myriad programs.
“Most towns don’t have a youth center, and many towns have a boarded up elementary school. We’re not many, we’re not most, we’re special,” Rupp concluded.
Nestor said money from anyone capable of opening their wallet is more than welcome.
“We’re continuing to raise money for the groundbreaking, so any donations of any size … will be appreciated,” he said.
McCauley said Buckhannon Rotary Club’s pledge “puts us up around $280,000, so we’re getting there.”
But the Rotary Club wasn’t the only party willing to contribute to further the cause Thursday.
Caressa Chapman, owner of Fox’s Pizza Den, told council that during month of April, she plans to contribute $1, $2 or $3 to the capital campaign, depending on the size of the pizza sold.
“I just thought it would be neat to be a part of it, and I love our town and what you’re doing, and it’s all about the kids,” Chapman said. “It’s probably not going to be $10,000, but every penny counts, so hopefully in the community, we can come together and eat pizza and make money.”