Youth center closed ’til fall, needs volunteers

Staff writer

The lights are not on. The doors are locked. The kids are not there. This summer, Marion Youth Center is closed.

The center is largely dependent on the goodwill of local volunteers. While there is no shortage of goodwill, there is however a scarcity of volunteers.

Pam Bowers is in charge of scheduling volunteers.

“I inherited the position from Doug Kjellin last year when he got burned out,” Bowers said.

She went on to say, “I am behind the scenes. There is not a whole lot that goes into it. I just do some phoning and pass the keys around. But we struggle to find volunteers.”

During the school year, Bowers would use a sign-in sheet to try to enlist parents of kids who used the facilities because they might be more likely to donate their time.

“Some just say no.” Bowers said, “Sometimes I think I should change my phone. People recognize my number and don’t answer.”

Bowers is no stranger to public involvement and a long time supporter of community activities. She has been involved in groups since the early ’90s, when her oldest children were in high school.

“I used to run the concession stand at Marion sporting events,” she said.

She even won a booster award for her efforts.

Currently she is part of Hope Circles, the PRIDE Committee, and the Park Board, she enjoys her group activities but feels, “stretched a little thin.”

In fact, she wishes the Youth Center could be open in the summer.

“It’s a wholesome place for the kids to have fun,” she said.

She just does not have time to do the scheduling.

Bowers feels as if someone else might be able to do a better job, and the right person might even be able to schedule enough volunteer workers to keep the center open during the summer.

During the school there are anywhere from six to thirty kids who us the facility.

“We see a lot of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders,” Bowers said. “But I don’t know all the kids or their parents anymore.”

Bowers is ready to pass on her duties to someone new.

She said, “Some people don’t realize that when you volunteer, your efforts are repaid with satisfaction. There is nothing more heartwarming than seeing the kids play.”

The best candidate might be a parent with a child in who participates in sports.

Parents who watch their kids compete generally get to know each other pretty well, she said, and might feel more inclined to help each other.

Normal operating hours are 7p.m. to 11:45pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

For more information, contact Bowers at (620)382-0495 or City Administrator Doug Kjellin at (620)382-3703.

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