New community center, the Den, brings more spaces for activities in Gulfport

Published: Nov. 27, 2022 at 10:26 PM CST
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - The Den is a new community center hoping to expand enrichment-based activities in the heart of Gulfport.

Step into the Den and you’ll see there’s a lot happening.

“Basically, the idea of the Den is to have multiple activities under one roof,” said executive director Aline Goldin. “At the same time, we have cheer going, we have martial arts going, we have dance going.”

Goldin had a dream - to have a space for her kids in all sorts of programs. Now, it’s a reality.

“I’m a mom of two kids and we travel everywhere all over the coast going to different activities with our kids,” she said. “I was thinking one day, you know, we live in the second largest city in Mississippi and we’re the ones traveling everywhere. Why don’t we get the resources and bring them here, bring them to Gulfport?”

The building was empty for six years, but after six weeks of work, Goldin opened the doors to the community.

“When Ms. Goldin called me and told me about this plan she had for the Den, it was a no brainer,” said Kelly’s Steps School of Dance director Kelli Dickens. “All of these kids in these communities deserve a place to go and feel at home, and the title of the Den is perfect.”

One of the Den’s biggest attractions? It’s location.

“We’ve had a wait list since we announced we were opening, and we still have a wait list,” said Cheer Zone Athletics novice director Tiffany Alsbury. “The kids can walk right over from Bayou View, Hope Academy will be opening, kids can go from dance class to cheer. It’s just a great location. “We are in the Long Beach market, the Saucier market, the D’Iberville, and to be in the heart of Gulfport is really being able to tap into that new market.”

“In the city of Gulfport, I think this facility is needed,” said Pruitt’s Martial Arts chief instructor Derek Pruitt. “A multi-use facility with martial arts and dance and cheer and bigger things coming. It’s definitely been a positive feedback, and I feel like it’s just going to get better.”

While there’s still more work to be done, Goldin says she’s ready to make the Den even better.

“It’s really exhilarating. I love it. I definitely feel like I’ve found my calling. My kids are getting older, so it’s just nice to have another project where I can work on things. I go to bed at night knowing I did something great for the community.”

Den is an acronym, which stands for Dynamic Enrichment Network. The owners hope to offer more activities based in arts, technology and even cooking.

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