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Youth center off and running

En-Gedi, meaning “A Place to Be Refreshed,” is exploding with excitement. And come July 20, the youth center will open their doors.

The non-profit organization comprised of Cedar Springs Area community members has been busy. They recently completed a 3-month Community Survey, successfully hosted a “School’s Out for Summer Bash” for middle school students, received the status of “Partners in Education” from the Cedar Springs Public Schools District, and secured a location for a youth center that will open their doors on Tuesday, July 20.

En-Gedi was recently presented with results of a community survey conducted by Mike Soltis, a graduate student of Grand Valley State University (GVSU). Results indicated respondents supported En-Gedi’s mission (93.3% yes), believed a youth center in Cedar Springs was important (74% yes), and showed a willingness of general financial support for a local youth center (87.5% yes).

“I believe the survey results show significant community support for En-Gedi’s vision and a community youth center,” reported Soltis.

En-Gedi, a Christ-centered organization, plans to work together with local organizations already in place to help students make positive life choices. For now, the primary focus of En-Gedi is to serve students in grades 6th-12th with  1) “The Place” to hang out  2) Student events to include concerts, skate park, dodge ball, and more  3) Mentoring, tutoring, and community service opportunities and 4) Intramural sports programs. A complete copy of the survey results are available by contacting En-Gedi Board President, Tom Holloway.

A first time “Schools Out for Summer Bash” was provided by En-Gedi with approximately 500 middle school students attending following the final day of classes, June 8th. A wide variety of activities was enjoyed by the students. En-Gedi has provided various special events over the past year including a dodge ball tournament at the high school, a battle-of-the bands competition, concerts, and community service projects for students.

“I believe the ‘Schools Out for Summer Bash’ was well-received by the students and a great way for them to celebrate the conclusion of their school year with some fun,” said Holloway, who organized the afternoon event.

En-Gedi recently received approval from the Cedar Springs School Board after submitting application for status as a “Partner in Education.” En-Gedi is now authorized to work with school officials and use school facilities under the specified guidelines. “This is another opportunity for Cedar Springs Public Schools to work with community service organizations,” responded Ron McDermed, Cedar Springs Public School Superintendent.

Following the approval as a “Partner in Education” and discussions with school administrators, En-Gedi was granted use of rooms in Red Hawk Elementary. It was determined that Red Hawk Elementary School, which is centrally located on campus and now being used for the federally-funded summer free-lunch program and other community “Partner in Education” organizations, would be the best year-round location for En-Gedi. With a location secured, En-Gedi was able to proceed with a 2-year long dream of opening a community youth center.

On Tuesday, July 20, from 12-3 p.m., En-Gedi will open with space in the south hallway section of Red Hawk Elementary. The room is in the process of being renovated and updated with the latest technology and a relaxed, comfortable environment. En-Gedi will continue to be open every Tuesday and Thursday from 12-3 p.m. until the start of school.  Fall hours are yet to be released.  All 6th-12th grade students are welcome and should enter through Red Hawk Elementary front doors and look for signs directing them to En-Gedi. An official “Grand Opening” will be held in the fall when school starts.

Board member Marilyn Magnuson has been working with teachers, counselors, and business and community members to identify volunteers but still needs more adults over 21 years old wanting to be involved with the youth of our community. If you are able to donate just a few hours of time per month, it would be greatly appreciated. Please contact Marilyn at 616-918-6357 or spunkie@charter.net. You can also contact En-Gedi via the website at www.En-GediYouthCenter.com or e-mail them at EnGediYouthCenter@gmail.com.

The En-Gedi Board is expected to appoint Tom Holloway to serve as Interim Director of the Youth Center. Holloway will resign his position as En-Gedi Board President during his volunteer service as Director. The board will begin a search for a permanent director within the next few months and upon securing funding for this position. Financial donations are needed for office supplies, operational costs and equipment, as well as reimbursement for a director.

Monetary donations of any amount will be gratefully accepted when mailed to En-Gedi, 300 Prairie Run, Cedar Springs, MI  49319. If you wish to receive a receipt for your tax-deductible donation, be sure to make your check payable to En-Gedi and include a note requesting a receipt please,” explained Holloway.

“This is an exciting time for all the many community members, business owner, pastors, and educational leaders who have held onto and worked toward their belief that Cedar Springs should have a safe and supervised place for young people to gather and receive guidance, support, and encouragement,” said Holloway. “En-Gedi is the result of several years of prayerful persistence from many people who had a dream for this community. We still have a lot of hard work ahead of us…and the opening of a community youth center is a huge accomplishment with reason to pause and celebrate.”

For updated information, visit the En-Gedi website www.En-GediYouthCenter.com or Facebook page.  You can contact board members by e-mail at EnGediYouthCenter@gmail.com or by calling Sue Wolfe at 696-8432.

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