One month after theft, planned west side youth center picks up donation

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A planned west side youth center is one step closer to reality after the project, aimed at keeping kids away from crime, picked up a donation Thursday.

The Clermont Lions Club said they decided to donate $500 after seeing a story on WISH-TV about a thief breaking into the youth center’s air conditioning unit and stripping the parts.

Pastor Ronald Covington plans to open the center, which is still under construction, in the summer.

“Every donation brings us closer to opening the center and, I would say, saving lives,” Covington said.

Covington and other church leaders from Friendship Missionary Baptist Church have worked two years, using community donations to build the youth center near 16th Street and Tibbs Avenue. They see it as a potential safe haven — a place for kids to learn, exercise and improve their lives.

Church leaders were left scrambling for donations in April when a thief stripped the center’s air conditioning unit and took off with thousands of dollars’ worth of parts.

Clermont Lions Club President Ken Faulkner said the club decided unanimously to donate $500.

“We seen the story on channel 8,” Faulkner said. “I fully believe that if we treated each other like neighbors instead of strangers, Indianapolis would be a safer place to live.”

The youth center is about half a mile from the Taco Bell where police say two teenagers robbed an IndyCar driver at gunpoint.

It’s two blocks from spot where, last January, someone shot and killed a 14-year-old.

The center is just around the corner from Brian Lemont Tracy’s home. The youth center earned his endorsement because he’s raising five teenagers.

“I don’t want to see them on the news. I don’t want them to be victims of what’s going on. Bad situations at the wrong time,” Tracy said.

Church members have already poured thousands into the project.

Pastor Covington said the community center is about 90 percent done. He’s still seeking donations to carry him to 100 percent.

“We’re not in a rich neighborhood,” Covington said. “We’re not a rich church. We’re doing all that we can to get this place opened up as soon as we can.”

If you’d like to donate you can call the church at 317-917-8024.

Never miss another Facebook post from WISH-TV