Construction is underway on a much-needed activities center that will provide a safe play area and meeting space for hundreds of families in a community along the Ohio River.

The House of the Carpenter has struggled to overcome construction delays and increases in the cost of labor and materials in order to break ground on its 8,500-square-foot Youth Center. The annex will be connected to its existing main building located on historic Wheeling Island.

The Youth Center will house a half-court gymnasium, gathering area and meeting rooms. Its mission is to provide a safe location for children to play, for teens to get involved in development programs and for parents and adults to expand their horizons.

The nonprofit organization has already raised nearly $2 million but still needs an additional $500,000 before the end of 2019 to finish the much-anticipated project.

HARD TIMES

Many families on Wheeling Island are struggling in poverty. They often lack both access to transportation and the extra money take their children to nearby parks and activities that will keep their bodies active and their minds busy.

Once a thriving community of wealthy merchants and factory workers, “The Island” has in recent decades fallen on hard times. Island children have been witnesses to violent crime, drug addiction and urban decay.

SAFE HAVEN and TRANSFORMATION

The House of the Carpenter, located in a large house along South Front Street, has created a safe haven and a sense of community for families striving for a better life for their children. Within the past seven years, the number of programs it offers has grown from nine to 31 annually. More than half of these programs are offered specifically to area youth and include music, art, cooking classes, life skills, career building, after-school programs and tutoring.

“Real transformations are taking place, especially with our youth,” says the Rev. Dr. Michael Linger, executive director. “Grades are improving in school, school attendance is improving, and the kids are developing realistic career paths and goals.

“The programs held in our youth center will be a conduit in moving families out of the culture of despair, defeat and failure. The programs will give our families the tools they need to build positive, safe relationships that support and encourage their transformation out of the cycle of poverty.

“Donations toward the construction of the Youth Center and to The House of the Carpenter will have a positive, lasting impact on children and families for decades to come,” says Linger.

For more information about the Building Hope for Tomorrow Campaign, or to make a donation, visit www.houseofthecarpenter.com. To contact Rev. Dr. Linger, contact him at mlinger@houseofthecarpenter.com or by calling 304-233-4640.

SINCE 1964

The House of the Carpenter was opened in 1964 in cooperation with the West Virginia Conference of the Methodist Church as a mission project with the purpose of addressing the growing needs of individuals and families, resulting from the decline in the coal and steel industries in the region. The House of the Carpenter serves people throughout the Upper Ohio Valley on both sides of the Ohio River.

It began in an old Victorian-style home on Wheeling Island. Out of this building, a clothing center, food pantry and utility assistance were provided to needy Wheeling Island families for 30 years. In 2000, a new building was constructed, and the House of the Carpenter moved farther south on Wheeling Island to 200 South Front St., where it continues to operate today.

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