Church renovating old building on west side for youth center

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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — 23 days ago, pastors and city leaders held a call for action.

Anthony Lee Hughes, 14, had been shot and killed the night before, just down the street from where they were standing.

“It hurt my heart,” said Shawn Motley.

They were standing in front of an empty building that used to be a Boys and Girls Club where Motley spent much of his childhood.

“This is the gym that pretty much everyone in Haughville grew up in,” he said.

And it is where he is spending much of his time now.

“I wanted a place that you could come to and a person can say, it’s not just a building — it’s a very nice building. I feel comfortable bringing the kids over here,” he said.

For the past year he and others have been turning the area that used to house a swimming pool into a ballroom, updating the floors and staining the ceilings, at the request of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church Pastor, Ronald Covington.

The church took over the building several years ago when the Boys and Girls Club left the building.

“This area, and not only this area, but areas around us really needed a facility for our young people and with all of the shootings and killings the crime that’s going on, in our neighborhood with our young people, we wanted to try to get this back open again to give them an alternative, to give them a safe haven where they could go and live,” he said.

And not just to live, they want to offer tutoring, cooking and art classes, even ball room dancing.

“I can see, I can vision young people’s lives being changed,” Covington said.

So far, the church has spent $300,000 fixing up the building. That money has come from fundraising and donations. If you’d like to help, you can contact Friendship Missionary Baptist Church at (317) 917-8024.

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