Louise Ogadinma spent much of her childhood in west side Detroit community centers.
After school in her neighborhood, there was no shortage of places where she and her friends could go to spend time enjoying extracurricular activities.
Now a mother in her 20s, Ogadinma is concerned other Detroit youth don’t have the opportunities she had.
“They’ve shut down so many places kids used to go,” says Ogadinma, referring to city-operated gyms and public facilities.
UAW-Ford shares Ogadinma’s view. In its effort to address the lack of youth recreation outlets in one east side neighborhood, the union and civic organization recently donated $100,000 to Chapel Vision Community Development Center. The organization and Galilee Baptist Church, the center’s sponsor, welcomed dozens of children and families to the new center’s ribbon-cutting and opening at site of the church, 5251 East Outer Drive.
Community and business officials, including representatives of the Detroit Tigers, PNC Bank, and the City of Detroit, were among guests who celebrated the effort. Ogadinma, who lives in Melvindale, attended the event with her daughter Olivia.
“When I first saw the facility I thought, ‘Oh, this is really nice,’” Ogadinma says.
Complete with an arcade-style game room on one side of the spacious center, and sports area on the other, the center welcomed small children, teenagers and adults into an exciting, indoor carnival atmosphere on a chilly Saturday morning. Some shot hoops on a shiny new basketball court, while others performed their best Miguel Cabrera impressions in a batting cage donated by UAW-Ford.
The day’s activities left Jimmy Settles, Jr., UAW-Ford vice president, all smiles, seeing the union’s investment come to life.
“There’s a community center off Van Dyke, but there’s nothing else here for kids,” says Settles. “This is not just for the church, it’s for the community.”
In conjunction with the opening of the recreation program, Galilee Baptist’s Chapel Vision Community Development Corp. installed classrooms and a professional development area as part of the new facility. The church also announced a mentoring initiative that will tutor ages 8 to 13, teach them etiquette and offer training through Michigan Heavy Hitters Baseball.
“We had the vision, so we matched the resources to do for the community what we wanted to do all along,” says Rev. Tellis Chapman, Galilee Baptist pastor.
Mind & Manners Mentoring and Tutorial, the center’s education component, adds a means of bringing youth in from the streets and deterring crime, he says.
“This is the practical side of (ministry),” adds Tellis. “The church has to give people something practical. That goes for feeding them when they’re hungry, visiting them when they’re in prison, and feeding their minds.”
The mentoring program is open to local students in third through fifth grades from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, and for those in sixth through eighth grades from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Ogadinma, a fitness instructor, says she’ll bring along Olivia when she begins training at the center, and Olivia looks forward to tagging along.
“They’ve got lots of games,” says the 7-year-old.
Photos: Paul Engstrom