NEWPORT NEWS, Va.— A Newport News woman is on a mission to bring a community center to her neighborhood. It’s a heavy lift, it would require raising funds to buy and restore the abandoned building. It’s a big goal, but she is already getting support from some area families. We spoke to the woman about her goals for the Southeast community.
Right now it's just a vision, but for Tamika Callis, she is ready to see this building come back to life. City leaders say the YWCA used to be a pillar within the community, and they support her mission in making this center feel like a home away from home.
"I was a teen out here in these streets, in Newport News. Now that I have overcome a lot of my adversities I want to give back to the community, I want to provide a safe haven for our kids" said Callis.
Callis said she's witnessed too many children go down the wrong path, and wants to turn this center into something families can come to and trust.
"I want to provide substance abuse counseling, be able to provide domestic abuse counseling. Not so much as teens or youth I would say being abused, but they see their parents being abused, and they need counseling from that as well," said Callis.
City Council member Tina Vick said she remembers this building being an important resource even when she was a child and pushed for funding to revive the building.
"We allocated funding several times for maintenance, operations. Those were two key things that we designated funding for because it is difficult to manage a program that is not producing a lot of income, so we were able to help during those times," said Tina Vick, Newport News City Council Member.
However, funds from the community support budget still didn't stop the YWCA doors from closing unexpectedly. Families said this would be a good opportunity to provide resources, education, and guidance to their youth.
"I see a lot of youth following down behind people. They'll follow down behind other people and I guess that's the right way for them, but I'm pretty sure if they had someone to guide them they can probably pull through,"Ernest, a community member said.
Callis said her goal is to have the center up and running by 2024.
"I gotta have it, I gotta have it. I'm not taking no for an answer. I'm doing the Go-Fund-Me, I'm selling donuts, I'm selling candy. I made fliers, passed out fliers in the neighborhood and I'm just trying to raise the funds to restore this building so I can provide a center for our youth," said Callis.
Callis said she is working independently on this project and is not partnered with any non-profit organization. Her goal is to raise $50,000.
For anyone who is interested in helping Callis on her journey, you can donate to her Go-Fund-Me.