February 19, 2004

Christian Church Turning Donated Building Into Community Youth Center

It happened a little before Christmas, but it still was a wonderful gift regardless of the timing. Property owner Joan Mankopf made her second significant donation to the community when she gave the former Modern Apartments building to the First Christian Church of Memphis.

Earlier in the year Mankopf had donated a building on the south side of the Memphis Square to the City of Memphis. The former storefront currently is being leased by the city to a new business.

The second donation, the apartment buildings located just off the southeast corner of the city square, is also beginning to pay dividends to the community.

The former apartment complex is being transformed into a youth center by members of the Christian Church.

“We hope this can be a community-wide youth center not just for the Christian Church,” said church member Dr. Celeste Miller. “We want the center to be value oriented and create a positive outlook for the kids but we want it to be non-denominational and available for everyone.”

Workers have been busy removing the majority of the existing first floor of the building. The plan calls for this area to be one large, open community room. The workers hope to install a kitchenette as well as restrooms but plan to leave the bulk of the room open as a large gathering area. The group has discussed the creation of a stage to allow the building to house performances.

“A youth group in Lancaster hosts regular monthly music concerts and we thought this might be something our youth center could do as well,” stated Dr. Miller.

The first floor could house additional entertainment opportunities such as ping pong tables and other games.

While the initial work has involved mainly cleaning out debris and demolition of the first floor rooms, the project is nearing the construction stage.

The group has scheduled workdays at the center for February 28, March 13 and March 27, all Saturdays. Public assistance is needed to have the project move forward. Laborers are needed to help continue the cleaning as well as skilled construction workers to build the kitchenette and bathrooms and to install electricity and plumbing. The group also is accepting donations of materials and other financial sponsorship.

The church is working on grant applications to seek additional funding for the site.

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