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Local youth center fights to stay open

Local youth center fights to stay open

Nine year-old Axel Guzman like to spend his time playing pool at the Integral Youth Services' Youth Center after school.

"It means a lot to me staying here and being here to hang out with my friends," said Guzman.

That could be a thing of the past because the youth center wasn't able to get two major federal grants, and it might have to close because of lack of funding.

"I'm kind of sad because we're going to have to stay at our school for a little bit before my grandma comes and picks us up," said Guzman. "I really like playing pool over here."

For right now, Guzman can keep working on his pool skills thanks to community members fundraising to get enough money to keep the place open.

"We have raised $70,000 so far which is a little over half of what we need to keep it open for the whole year," said Interim Executive Director, Larry Zeilstra. "It costs about $10,000.

The owner of Base and Thrift donated almost $800. Last Saturday, the owner of the store dedicated all it's proceeds of that day to the youth center.

"These kids in ten years are going to be the ones getting ready to own businesses and run this community," said owner Leslie Clifton. "If we don't get them on the right path to do that, it's not going to go well and everything will fall apart, we have to invest in everyone's future."

IYS owner Zeilstra says the youth center is more than just fun and games.

"They get a good USDA supper, we help them with tutoring on their homework if they need it, give them a good place to get it done," said Zeilstra.

"They are not in the neighborhood getting in trouble, they are not at home where there isn't adult supervision."

" I wish that they would never close," said Guzman.

He's just one of many, hoping to keep the doors open.



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