New Youth Center to Open Monday on Eastside
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Director Zac Hamby is ready for the Eastside City Life Center to open on Monday. The Center, which is a part of Kalamazoo Youth for Christ (YFC), broke ground for renovations in late 2019 after the building was purchased from the East Main Church of Christ.
For months, Hamby explains, they have been dealing with things like building codes and blueprints.
“It’s been mostly adults and adult things… I’m excited to have this place full of laughter… the sheer joy of seeing, eventually 100, 200 kids in here excites me,” Hamby said.
The Eastside City Life Center is designed for middle and high school students between the ages of 11 and 19. The Center can accommodate up to 200 children, however they are currently limiting numbers to 20 children per age group due to COVID restrictions.
Hamby states that as time passes and restrictions are lifted, the Center will begin to let more children enter the program. Masks will be required in the building and there are multiple locations for hand washing and sanitizing.
The City Life Center has a variety of activities for participants. There is a computer lab for students to complete homework, a dance studio, an area for video games, ping pong tables, and a gymnasium for activities like basketball and volleyball. The first hour of each day will be for free time, then proceeded by structured activities. The children will also be provided dinner every night.
Eastside City Life Center's newly completed basketball court.
There are no costs or religious requirements for youth to join the program, Hamby says. While the Center is a Christ-based program, children from all religions or no religion are welcome to attend.
“We just want to share love first,” Hamby said.
The Center is currently set up to be open three days a week, with an end goal of being open five days a week. Days are separated by age group: Tuesdays for middle schoolers, Thursdays for high schoolers, and Fridays for both groups. The Center will be open from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Though no longer owners of the building, the East Main Church of Christ will continue to have services in the building on Sundays and Wednesdays.
The Eastside Center is the newest addition for YFC, which has locations across the city, including in Colonial Acres and the Edison neighborhood. The Center will serve as the executive office for the other City Life programs.
The Eastside City Life Center will have a ribbon cutting ceremony next Monday, February 15, at noon. The center is located at 2528 East Main St. in Kalamazoo Township. Anyone interested in volunteering or enrolling a child in the program, can go to kalamazooyfc.org or contact Zac Hamby at firstname.lastname@example.org.