The Duncan Banner
Bonnie Talley and Carol Wanzor shared a dream with about 80 people. And that dream was about having a place for children to go after school.
Members of the community met Tuesday evening at The Well Outreach Center to discuss the need for a child and teen hangout, or hangouts. Talley said to make the dream a reality, it would take cooperation among churches, help from the school district and involvement from law enforcement.
The Well was discussed as one location for such a hangout, although Talley and Wanzor discussed the need to keep children of varying age groups separated to make it easier to reach out to them depending on their interests. What fourth and fifth-graders find interesting might not impress middle school or high school students.
“The heart of this building is to reach out to the community,” Talley said.
The Well became a non-profit organization in 2012. The Well facility would be used for at least one age group, which would mean the need for one or two additional buildings.
Wanzor said the outreach hangouts wouldn’t be aimed at any one church denomination. Instead, it would be aimed at providing a safe place for youth to have fun, while learning ways to be better citizens.
Each site would have a staff person who would run the individual facilities. Boundaries would be set on behavioral expectations. The facilities would be open to people of all income types. She said there would be volunteer opportunities and ways for every church to be involved.
Some of the challenges the project would have to overcome would include finances, transportation, volunteerism and finding facilities.
“We’ve got big dreams,” Wanzor said. “We’ve got to start somewhere.”
Members of the audience listed things they would like to see the program do, including creating an interest in music, teaching life skills, educating about finances, helping build résumés, giving a place to dance and play, focusing on heath, and providing mentors.
Audience member Tara Harper said she would like students to have a say in what they want to see at the sites.
But at the basis of it all, Wanzor and Talley said they want to provide a place where children and youths know they’re cared for.
“The number of children being taken care of by grandparents has more than doubled in the last 15 years,” Talley said. “We can’t rely on some parents to be parents. We need to step in and help.”