HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The new Racepath Community Center hosted its grand opening on Wednesday, April 11. It's part of the county's Community Development Office's plan to revitalize the neighborhood, starting with the community center.
Just last year, it was a double-wide trailer, with only two rooms.
Reverend William Gause, President of the non-profit organization Phoenix Renaissance, said the new building is a blessing to the community.
This new facility is about 3,000 square feet with plenty of space for new activities, all provided by the county to Phoenix Renaissance for $5.
The center has been home to anything that involves the community, such as neighborhood meetings, an after school program and a 10-week summer youth camp that grows every year.
"I realized that once you work with kids, and you start providing for them and showing them the love…most of all, you will gain them. There so much going on with the drugs, with crime, and when I was coming up, we didn't have anything but clean roads to play on. So, now to get something for them to keep their minds occupied, not into doing foolish things, but to do wise things," said Gause.
Reverend Gause is a native to the Racepath community. He said he's dedicated his whole life to helping this community and said he doesn't plan on stopping.
"Anyone in a community that doesn't have a community center, you don't have to wait for a building. I didn't wait, I started with four children in my home years ago, and it grew, and it was a lot of tears, a lot of frustration, a lot of anger. You know, but it worked, and so it's very important. This building is vital, it's not because the big-ness, the beauty of it, but it's the service that we are trying to offer," said Gause.
Reverend Gause said the biggest challenge in all of this has been funding, and doesn't expect the problem to stop. A bigger facility means higher bills. He said it is estimated the new cost to run the building would be around $17,000 to maintain a month, not including the program fees.
Before, the focus was geared more toward children, because of the lack of space. Now, the larger facility provides more opportunities for the community. They plan to roll out new services like counseling, drug rehabilitation, parenting classes and even a food pantry, just to name a few.
Reverend Gause said despite the location of the Racepath community center, its doors are open to everyone.
"With us combating the drugs and so forth that's here, if this organization continues to strive and do what it's doing, we're going to eliminate something. Something's got to go. You got to lose to gain and something will break. Somebody's going to say well enough is enough. We got to stop it. We got a community center, they are very respectable of the center, very. But changes will come," said Gause.
"Getting people off the street, taking pride in the community, I'm beginning to see some of that. We have community meetings every first Saturday of the month, and I've been getting to see. We had a community clean up last month, and it was awesome. There were people I didn't even think would come out, and I was like 'Yes!' And that's what I'm looking for, is to start coming together where there's unity, there's strength. So, that's what we're striving for," said Gause.
To learn more about The Racepath Community Center and how to get involved with Phoenix Renaissance, click here.