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House of Carpenter to Build $2M Youth Center

July 31, 2017
By BETSY BETHEL - Life Editor , OVParent

WHEELING - With an eye to transforming the bodies, minds and futures of local youth, House of the Carpenter leaders have announced they will build a $2 million youth center next door to the current location at 200 South Front St. on Wheeling Island.

The two-story structure will include a half-court gym and a gathering area on its first level and meeting space on the second floor.

The 8,500-square-foot building designed by Adam Mull will be erected to the south of the existing structure, elevated above the current parking lot in order to keep it off the flood plain and to provide sufficient parking. The two buildings will be connected by a common entrance, where a new elevator also will be installed.

Article Photos

Photo by Betsy Bethel
Mike Linger, House of the Carpenter executive director, points to the plans for an 8,500-square-foot expansion project at the Wheeling Island facility.

The facility will provide a safe place for local youth to gather to learn and play all while building relationships that have the potential to be life changing.

"Our new youth center will be a conduit for our families and especially our children to move them out of the culture of despair, defeat and failure and enable them to build positive safe relationships that support and encourage them ...," said Mike Linger, executive director of the United Methodist-affiliated charity.

Sports camps and dance classes will be among the new programs that will be added to already established youth programs, such as Kids in the Kitchen, a career development program for middle-schoolers, a leadership academy, guitar lessons, literacy camp, art classes, after-school activities and more.

Linger said that three years ago, the House of the Carpenter developed a strategic plan to focus on youth development. The agency has fulfilled the first steps of the plan: increasing youth programming and hiring a youth coordinator. The new building is the final step, he said.

"We've outgrown this facility," Linger said of the current building, which was built in 2000. "We have over a dozen programs going on. ... Right now, we're serving an average of over 1,300 people a week. That's hard to imagine coming through one facility."

The House of the Carpenter also operates adult programs, including cooking classes, as well as a food bank and thrift store. A dinner and worship service takes place one night a week, and the facility is used for meetings by Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. It conducts a Christmas drive for kids and a school supply drive, as well as a weekend backpack program that provides children with food to take home each weekend during the school year.

The agency also maintains a building at 21 N. Front St., which was the original location of the House of the Carpenter in 1970. That facility now is used to house temporary volunteer work crews from out of town, Linger said. These adult and youth workers provide labor for repairs on homes recommended by local churches, agencies and individuals. The Wheeling charity is not affiliated with one of the same name in Moundsville.

Linger said $1.1 million has been raised so far for the building project through grants, private foundations and donations. The "fiscally responsible" board of directors, Linger said, would like to see all $2 million in hand before workers break ground, which is slated for early next year.

"I'm cautiously optimistic," he said. He is hoping for additional donations from the community and from United Methodist Church congregations to reach the goal.

"The community has been very supportive of the work we do," Linger added. "We look at this as a long-term investment in the kids in the community."



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