A faith-based youth center in South Toledo is making a desperate plea to the public for donations to keep from closing its doors.
The Mill Youth Center, 5115 Glendale Ave., near Reynolds Road, owes $73,000 in back rent and struggles to meet its monthly $15,000 overhead cost, said Bernadine Patton, executive director. "The Mill has been operating in the red for a little while," Ms. Patton said. "We were thinking we could do a partnership with the [YMCA], but that did not happen."
The center has been depending on monetary help from YES-FM (89.3), a Christian radio station in Toledo, and hopes to reach a partnership agreement with Calvary Church.
"I suggested that we needed to go to the public for help because right now we are able to stay open due to the help we get from the radio station," Ms. Patton said.
During the year, she said, thousands of teens between the ages of 13 and 19 use the center. It is open from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. There are also church services held on Sundays in the building.
The Mill's financial problems come at a time when Toledo police have been dealing with teen fights at Westfield Franklin Park and at the downtown Toledo-Lucas County Main Public Library. Ironically, one of the explanations offered by police, community leaders, and teens themselves for some of the disturbances is a perceived lack of recreational activities for teens.
Connie Cordero of North Toledo has sent each of her five grandchildren to the center over the last eight years and said it's an asset to the entire city.
"Toledo doesn't have very many things for Christian kids," Ms. Cordero said. "It's not just a place to hang out, it's a place to hear about the word of God, and that's important."
Ms. Patton said The Mill, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) group, must raise enough money by Jan. 31 to remain open.
"We are going to fight until the last day," she said. "We are not just going to give up and say The Mill is going to close."
The center operates concerts, fun nights, and Bible study for young people.
"It's a safe place for teenagers and that, to me, makes it worth saving," Ms. Patton said. "The threat of it closing is very real at this point."
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