By Kara Linaburg
Jewel City Church in Meadowbrook plans to host a fundraising gala Friday, March 10 at 6:30 p.m. to raise money for the completion of the Buzz Henderson Center. A 29,000 square foot sports complex that sits directly beside the church building, the center is large enough to hold two junior courts, one full size basketball court, a turf field, batting cages, a weight room, and concessions stand.
“The heart and purpose of this facility is to be an asset to our community by providing a safe and healthy space for children, students, and families to come and compete, stay healthy, and enjoy community,” said Trey Lefevre, media director of Jewel City.
Pastor Robert Shingleton says that the center will act as not only a health and wellness facility or activity building, but hold an after-school program for youth.
According to youth.gov, a federal government web resource, centers that hold activities for youth can support social, academic, and cognitive development, as well as provide a safe environment for children to grow physically.
Statistics from K-12 Dive, an education news source, show that students who are mentored and have people supporting them are 55% less likely to skip school, 48% less likely to try illegal drugs, 78% more likely to volunteer in the community, and 130% more likely to hold leadership positions in the future. In 2022, a report from WalletHub also showed that West Virginia is ranked as fourth in the United States with the most at-risk youth, and these facts alone may make projects like the Buzz Henderson Center vital in the health of the community both physically and mentally.
“The Buzz Henderson Center is the result of God’s vision,” Shingleton said in a letter on the church’s website. “And we seek to use it as a tool to impact and love our community and surrounding regions.”
Jewel City regularly draws large crowds to their events, and they are known for their annual activities for children and families, including their Vacation Bible School (VBS), Fall Fest, and widely anticipated Christmas production. But the heart of their programs are always outreach and sharing the gospel message in a loving environment.
The vision for the Buzz Henderson Center came to Shingleton a few years ago during their VBS program. Shingleton explained to the church, “At one bus stop, two boys came up to the bus. They asked me, ‘Why are you picking up kids?’ I told them, ‘I’m picking up anyone who wants to go to VBS.’ They asked me if they could come and if there would be food. My heart sank as I realized that many do not have a place to go that is safe, uplifting, and loving.”
Jewel City is striving to go into this project debt free. The charity gala is for those who want to learn more about how they can partner with this project, and donations will be appreciated no matter the amount.
Purchasing the $20 tickets for the fundraising event are required, as it will cover the cost for the meal. Folks must RSVP by Feb. 24 and can learn more about the gala, to be held at the church at 511 Jewel City Blvd, and the center at https://jccwv.churchcenter.com/registrations/events/1611795. They may also call the church with questions at 304-592-5678.