EASLEY — The Dream Center of Pickens County has officially opened its doors and county residents and youth now have access to a bevy of programs to improve their lives.
Located in the old Simpson Academy on D Street, the once vacant building is now home to SHINE (soup kitchen), Family Promise (assisting homeless families), Five Point Food Bank, Reach Ministries (ministry to at-risk youth), Celebrate Recovery of Pickens County, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), and AmeriCorps.
“This is a great addition to Easley and what we’re trying to do as a city,” Easley Mayor Larry Bagwell said. “This center is a dream come true for a lot of our community, especially our young people, because now they have access to all of these programs.”
The youth in the Easley community were the topic of discussion for most in attendance for the ribbon cutting ceremony.
“There’s going to be a better opportunity to give kids the help they need and can’t get from a church versus state point of view,” said Tim Shutton, a pastor and mentor with The Dream Center. “We’re going to be looking at spiritual and stability in their lives with a positive message and direction.”
Mayor Bagwell said he was excited about the youth-oriented programs as well.
“They’re going to have teaching programs here, and that’s what I like about it,” the mayor said. “It’s a positive thing for everybody, not just the people who will be using the center.”
Herbert Bowen, also participating with The Dream Center, stressed how important the educational opportunities are for the community.
“Everything we do thrives on education and you can’t rely on sports your entire life,” Bowen said. “These kids have to have an education to fall back on when they’re playing days are over.”
The programs for youth will run through summer with the intent to expose the kids to new ideas and opportunities they may otherwise have no exposure to.
“We plan to have stuff the kids don’t normally do planned for the summer,” Shutton said. “Sports like golf, these kids don’t normally get to see or play things like that. We hope to give them all an opportunity to see something new and give it a try.”
The Dream Center is a privately funded organization, receiving no governmental aid for operational or maintenance costs. Private donors and supporters have made the opening of the new center possible, but the need for financial assistance will always be there as will the need for mentors and volunteers.