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Gem City Youth Center open, growing

March 4, 2012
By MARK J. MILLER - Staff writer ((Miller can be contacted at , The Herald-Star

TORONTO - The Gem City Youth Center is off to a good start, with a steady stream of young people attending from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. every Friday and Saturday evening.

The center, which is sandwiched between the His Hands Extended food pantry and the Shepherd's Closet clothing store, celebrated its grand opening on Jan. 28. Since then the center has been a hit with teens, according to the Rev. Lloyd Hill, youth center founder and pastor of the Abundant Life First Assembly of God Church.

"We had more than 50 people attend the grand opening," said Hill. "We had prizes we gave out, and we got lots of positive responses."

Article Photos

GOOD GAME — The Rev. Lloyd Hill, left, pastor of the Abundant Life Assembly of God Church, and Toronto Mayor John Geddis take a minute at the recently opened Gem City Youth Center. The center, located between the His Hands Extended food pantry and the Shepherd’s Closet clothing store at 215 N. Fourth St., is off to a good start, according to Hill.

Hill said the center - begun with an anonymous $5,000 donation - had an assortment of activities geared for youth, including board games, air hockey, a cafe, a ping-pong table, video games, a foosball table and more. Hill said more will be coming as the center progresses.

"We ask (those attending) what they want to do," said Hill, adding the events are chaperoned by adults. "We also let them bring in their own games. They really like the air hockey. We keep an eye out for them. We have a lot of volunteers who come and help us out.

"Sometimes they will play games and sometimes they just sit and talk," continued Hill, adding more young people have been attending week to week. "They can pretty much do what they want."

Hill has said the idea is for youth attending to take an active part in the center's direction, and it's centered toward young people in junior high and high school and giving them something fun to do while at the same time learning responsibility. He added there's been a consistent crowd that's been attending for the past few weeks.

"It's a group I've seen outside," he said. "They like coming in out of the cold."

There's no admission to the center, and all city youth are welcome, said Hill.

For information, call (740) 537-1823 or (417) 380-1550.

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