Truitt Street Community Center off to positive start

Now that the Community Center at 319 Truitt St. is open, volunteers are working to appeal to local  young people.

“The goal to have a safe haven for them,” said Jermichael Mitchell, of the Salisbury Pride Lion’s Club, one of the local organizations that signed a contract with the city to use space in the center.

“We use basketball and other programs to reach children who want to get off the streets and don’t want to hang outside. We’ll have tutoring, homework help. The Community Center is open to anybody who wants to come. Just come in and get a registration form. Everything is free, although there will be a cost, occasionally, for things like T-shirts for leagues, but that cost will only be $5 or $10,” Mitchell said.

The Lion’s Club offers activities from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday.

Chesapeake Health Organization, formerly Three Lower Counties Community Services, or TLC, also has a contract with the city from to use the Center from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. weekdays, Mayor Jake Day explained, and a local church has expressed interest.

Two weeks ago, the center had a soft opening that drew dozens of youth and Mitchell hopes the number will increase. Children, happy to have a place to go, bounced basketballs as Day filmed them.

“Every kid in every neighborhood in our city shall have a safe place to play and grow. And where those spaces don’t yet exist, we will establish them. Thank you to all of the amazing people who have made this possible,” Day said.

Mitchell said he’s pleased Day and city leaders proved their dedication to youth by transforming the former warehouse into a welcoming location with classrooms, kitchenette and basketball court.

“This is the first step, one of several early steps, that this city is taking to take the progress and the development of our youth seriously. What you will see right away is several groups that we are working with that will be using the facility, including a Lions Club, Kids Rock basketball and after-school programming,” Day said.

“Basketball is our biggest draw. We had a night last week and it was packed,” Mitchell said.

The Lion’s Club has plans to acquire a portable classroom, where students, especially those being tutored, can study quietly, away from the noise of others playing. It will be paid for by fundraisers and donations, Mitchell said.

Volunteers are welcome “to come and be a positive adult in the building,” Mitchell said.

“Walk around. Play games with the kids,” he said. Anyone interested can call Mitchell at 410-845-6991.

The organization 50ksouls recently distributed boxes of food to about 50 homes on Truitt Street, near the community center. Those wishing to help can  take items to the city’s Housing and Community Development Department on the Downtown Plaza, at 207 West Main St., Suite 102.

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