The Urbana Youth Center (UYC) is wrapping up its approximately $280,000 renovation of the former Champaign County Public Library building at 160 West Market Street in Urbana. The repairs and improvements ensure the building will serve the community for many years to come, according to the UYC team.
The funds for the renovation project were largely made possible through the Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services (OHMAS), with assistance from the Mental Health, Drug, and Alcohol Services Board of Logan & Champaign Counties (MHDAS). The money only supports physical infrastructure and cannot be used to fund programs or operations at the youth center.
“MHDAS proactively located the Capital Youth Resiliency money available from the State of Ohio and helped us through the application process. This renovation project saved another community treasure and honors the building’s original purpose to educate the community,” Justin T. Weller, the Executive Director at UYC said.
Improvements over the past three months at the youth center include upgrading and adding new heat and air conditioning throughout the building, repairing massive quantities of crumbling plaster, restoring original woodwork, upgrading electrical systems, completely renovating four rooms that were in a state of disrepair, adding all new network infrastructure, new lighting, adding administrative space, repainting nearly the entire interior of the building with period accurate colors, and the list goes on.
“Old buildings like this often don’t get the attention they deserve. At GrandWorks (the parent foundation of UYC and the Gloria Theatre), our goal is to preserve and improve community treasures like this whenever possible. It isn’t always easy, but I think anyone who takes a tour of the youth center will know it is well worth it. This renovation project improved the safety and comfort of our building while ensuring it will stand for many more years,” Weller explained.
The Capital Youth Resiliency money from OHMAS is only available through local mental health boards and is designed to build resilient young people – youth that are resistant to mental health and addiction issues because they are equipped with the toolset to address those challenges. The Urbana Youth Center is one such project, according to MHDAS.
“The work taking place at the Urbana Youth Center is providing services that fill a much-needed gap for students in the community. Justin and the staff at UYC work hard to provide a great lineup of programs that give youth the tools that will assist them in avoiding some of the problems we see circulating through the adult community. MHDAS is excited to partner with them to provide staff training and prevention services and support that can make a difference in the lives of these students for years to come,” Tammy Nicholl, Executive Director for MHDAS shared.
According to the Urbana Youth Center’s mission, the center provides comprehensive youth services to reach, restore, and revive the community. Currently serving more than 500 student members in grades six through twelve, with open hearts, open minds, and open doors UYC educates students through respectful, honest, and open-minded programming.
“It is very important that people understand this money from the state that allowed us to do this major renovation project was strictly for the building. The youth center still requires ongoing financial support from the community. Serving 500 student members is no small task. The need and the demand for our programming clearly exists,” Weller explained.
MHDAS has provided $20,000 in calendar year 2021 to support the operations and programs of the Urbana Youth Center, which the UYC team says is much needed.
“Tammy and everyone at MHDAS have been incredibly supportive of our efforts. This community is very fortunate to have such a committed team working to support projects like the youth center. This renovation simply would not have happened without them,” Weller shared.
The youth center was just recently designated as the Priority One Youth capital project for Logan and Champaign Counties by MHDAS. This designation helps the youth center apply for grants and funding opportunities.
“Investing in the programming at the youth center is something MHDAS knows is incredibly important to our community. A number of businesses and organizations have already stepped up and we hope others will do the same. Our board is looking forward to continuing our work with the Urbana Youth Center and building bright futures for the youth of our communities,” Nicholl said.
“There are even bigger projects on the horizon from the youth center and MHDAS. We are really looking forward to sharing more soon about what’s to come. If this community and organizations like MHDAS continue to support our efforts, we can make a real difference in the lives of hundreds of students in our local community.
As a not-for-profit organization, the Urbana Youth Center relies on donations and grants to deliver programming and support operations. Those that want to donate or learn more about UYC can go to https://UrbanaYouthCenter.org or text the youth center at 937-772-4022.