Wiregrass Youth Center Meets Pandemic Challenges

DOTHAN, Alabama (WTVY) – Youth centers can make a difference in a child’s life, but the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way many centers operate now.

The Hawk-Houston Youth Enrichment Center in Dothan says that from the start of the pandemic until now, the program has faced many challenges, but they continue to scale up to help their young people.

The center has served wiregrass for 57 years and is committed to the development of young people in Dothan and beyond. When COVID struck, the center had no choice but to adapt.

“Hawk-Houston didn’t perform as well as we expected,” said Altha Newman, executive director of the Hawk-Houston Youth Enrichment Center. “We have been able to hold on, but as always we face serious financial challenges. “

The center is working to find new ways to fundraise, including systematically charging weekly fees.

“We just finished a raffle,” says Newman. “We are writing grants in the hopes of getting more funding, so we have several things we want to look at.”

With a lack of funding and staff, the board of directors became more involved in the operations of the center.

“They had to increase their donation hours,” Newman explains. “You know it’s a volunteer position as a board member. “

In addition, the center has also recently been the victim of vandalism. A window was intentionally smashed in October and the Hawk-Houston sign was removed earlier this week.

“We have no idea why this is suddenly happening, which can also be a financial burden for us,” says Denise Newby, chair of the board of directors of the Hawk-Houston Youth Enrichment Center. “But thank goodness the good people in the community stepped in to lend their support and helped replace what was vandalized. “

Above all, leaders say they keep moving forward for children.

“Our motto is that great things come from within,” Newman says. “And so we believe in our children. We believe so. We tell them that they are great and that they will do great things.

The center says it’s excited to bring back more in-person interactions with their students starting this month with a trip to see the Christmas lights in Montgomery.

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