GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A Gulfport building that's been sitting unused for more than six months is getting new life. The facility that used to house the Police Athletic League will now serve a different purpose for the community. City leaders, and residents celebrated a ribbon cutting at the building in Gaston Point Tuesday morning.
It's in the heart of Gaston Point and many in the surrounding neighborhoods are glad to see this day come.
"I am so excited about this facility. I have been watching and observing," said longtime resident Ruby Adams.
Now, the building bears a new title: The Family Enrichment Center. The organizations responsible for reopening these doors say it's a way to get the community involved again.
"This is an effort in the area of prevention," said Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania. The Gulfport Police Department has partnered with Climb CDC to make the center possible.
Chief Papania said it's all about providing a central location where families can learn together. He thinks Climb CDC helps offer that service to families who might not otherwise have the opportunity.
"Climb CDC is such a proven group and their efforts aren't just lip-service. They're really turning people around," said Papania.
Climb CDC CEO Lori West said this effort will simply expand the work that's already happening at Climb's downtown location.
"We'll be able to bring families together and continue doing what we're doing across the board," she said.
According to West, this project is made possible by a Community Impact Initiative Planning Grant from the United Way. In addition to culinary classes, West said Climb CDC will be able to offer classes like parenting, and food and nutrition. It's something similar to what West says the organization used to offer.
"We really feel like we're getting back to some of our roots at being able to make sure that we identify what makes a family whole," said West.
For Climb graduate and Gaston Point resident Tytiunna Jefferson, this is exactly what the area needed.
"I think this is a great step in the community. This is going to get more people involved and keep kids out of trouble," said Jefferson.
She knows, firsthand, that the people at Climb CDC can give people the hope they need to succeed.
"A lot of positive over negative. I know that for sure," she said.
According to West, the hours of operation should be finalized within the next month or two. She plans to hold a back-to-school dinner at the 8200 square foot facility once school is back in session.