The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

April 1, 2011

Center aims to help prevent drug abuse

WYOMING COUNTY — We’ve all heard about the prescription drug link between West Virginia and Florida, but as a new youth facility takes shape in Mullens, a more positive tie between the states has emerged.

Mark Robinson, a missionary from Florida, sold his belongings and came to Wyoming County with his wife and two children in hopes of developing The Way Youth Center, whose mission is, among other things, to aid in preventing young adult drug use and addiction.

The Way will be located in the old Big Lots building on Route 54, just outside Mullens, said Robinson, now the center director.

The goal is for the center to be open this spring, complete with “everything a kid could want — game tables like air hockey, ping pong, foosball and pool tables,” he said.

The Way will also have video games and a full-sized gym where kids can play floor hockey, basketball and dodgeball, as well as roller skate, he added. The center also plans on having a computer lab with Wi-Fi Internet.

Robinson said he also expects to create after-school programs with tutoring and live music on Friday nights.

The goal, he said, “is to give students and young adults something for them to do and a safe place for them to be with adult mentors.”

He said he hopes this type of facility, one that promotes clean fun, will help students in school and cut back on problems with drugs and crime, he said.

Robinson saw the need for this type of facility when, as a youth pastor, he visited the area on a mission trip to do home repair.

“I saw there was not a lot going on for students,” he explained. “Then I came back and worked with the Itmann Food Bank and decided that I was called to this area.”

Robinson and his wife are both educators with experience pastoring and working with youth, he said.

The Way Youth Center is still under renovation, but there are lots of ways for community members to get involved, he said.

From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays, volunteers with carpentry experience are welcome to show up for open work calls to help the group complete renovations.

The Way Youth Center is also holding a rummage sale from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 2 and April 9 in the old Big Lots building to benefit the center and area youth.

The center will also be looking for a group of adult volunteer mentors who will undergo background checks and be trained to deal with youth, he said.

“We want supervision and people in the faith in the building to be available for the kids to have counseling and role models,” he said.

To download mentor applications, donate to this 501(c)3 nonprofit, check out their “needs” list or learn more about the project, visit www.thewayyouthcenter.org.

For more information, contact Robinson by e-mail at director@thewayamerica.org or by phone at 352-467-9688.

—E-mail: splummer@register-herald.com

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