Construction begins on youth center

WHEELING — The House of the Carpenter broke ground Wednesday for its new youth center on Wheeling Island, with Madison Elementary School students wielding the ceremonial shovels.

The Rev. Michael Linger, executive director, said the board hopes construction for the $2 million project will begin later this year. He said the 8,500-square-foot youth center will take eight to 10 months to build.

The structure will be built above the flood plain and will be connected to the existing building at 200 S. Front St. The youth center will house a half-court gymnasium, gathering area and meeting rooms.

Loma Nevels, board president, said the new facility will allow the organization to expand ministries offered to children and youth. She said the center also will be “a safe location for children to come and have fun.”

Noting that enrichment programs have grown from nine to 31 in the past seven years, Nevels said, “There is no doubt that the Lord will bless us as we continue to build hope for tomorrow.”

Madison Elementary students, faculty and staff attended the outdoor ceremony, which concluded with the school’s student council scooping shovelfuls of dirt.

“Construction of this building and the programming that is to come is all for you,” said Linger.

Andrea Trio, principal of Madison, said the House of the Carpenter is not only a partner in education, but also “a part of our school family.” “This new youth center will be a place filled with promise and hope,” she said.

“This is a very exciting day for Wheeling Island and for this organization,” said Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott.

The House of the Carpenter, a ministry affiliated with the United Methodist Church, operates a food pantry and provides a variety of programs to improve the community’s quality of life. Linger said $1.3 million already has been donated or pledged to the youth center’s $2 million campaign.

The Rev. Sandra Steiner Ball, resident bishop of the United Methodist Church’s West Virginia Conference, envisioned the youth center as a place where children and youth can “dream dreams of their future, be able to grow in hope, where their future is unlimited.”

“We extend our prayers and great hope for this wonderful moment that will transform a community,’ said the Rev. Gary George, assistant to the bishop of the United Methodist Church’s East Ohio Conference.

Linger said 40 percent of the people who seek assistance at the House of the Carpenter are from Ohio. Roger Smith, retired board president, said the ministry now serves 1,400 people a week.

Participating in the actual groundbreaking were Madison student council members Angel Calissie, Domenic Purcell, Love Marie Reed, Raelin Ward, Diamond Butler, Xavier Hardway, Conner Phillips, Michael Hardway, K-Lynn Hardway, Eden DeMuth, Ariel Palmer and Zariha Lewis. Phillips and DeMuth also spoke at the program and led their fellow students in offering thanks for the project. The school choir sang “Simple Gifts” at the festivities.

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