Cass Youth Club to open this Saturday

Published 3:45 am Friday, October 24, 2003

By By MARCIA STEFFENS / Cassopolis Vigilant
CASSOPOLIS -- After years of planning, wishing, and begging for funds, the core group who have worked to establish a place for the youth of the area to have as their own will finally see their dream come true.
The Cass County Youth Club is set to officially open at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 25, with the celebration ceremony from 2;30 to 3:30 p.m. and the rest of the day and evening filled with children's games, music and fun.
Mary McFarland is one of those dedicated people who initially wanted a place for youth to go after school and on Saturdays in Cassopolis. She has worked these last three years seeking funding and volunteers to organize a Boys and Girls Club.
If it had been established, it would have been the first rural club in the almost 100 year old organization.
When approached to help, Mike McCuistion of the Edward Lowe Foundation said he thought they could help. The Foundation signed a lease to let the group use a building for the children.
But costs, such as insurance, rules and regulations, continued to keep the building at 60405 Decatur Road, which was formerly Haymarket Antiques, empty.
Other Boys and Girls Clubs in cities have the luxury of industry. Though Cass County did have the support of places such as K &M Manufacturing, nearby at the corner of Decatur Road and M-60, much of the area is open land or farms.
The President of the Board, McFarland is not one to give up.
A decision was made to just start a Youth Club without any affiliation with the Boys and Girls Club.
His answer reassured her, "It's not the name I have an alliance with," he told her. it was the concept.
The community also seems to agreed it is time to start running. So much support led Wiggins to add, "It's been proven to us the community wants this."
Volunteers have worked on setting up computer and game areas. Ramps were added to make the building and restrooms handicapped accessible, with the help of area Lions Clubs. Donations have been made by AEP and others for supplies.
Friends like Rusty and Shirley Hiemstra, have found additional ways to help. They asked the men and women's groups at the Penn Friends Church in Cassopolis to host a breakfast for the club to increase support.
Over 60 people attended and enjoyed the breakfast while touring the youth club's "barn." Both financial and volunteer support was obtained.
Pastor Claudette Haney of the Cassopolis United Methodist Church and Youth Club board member, spoke on how the club needs the community support and involvement and how much the community's youth will benefit.
Stephen Arnold, of the Comfort Zone, gave a demonstration of massage therapy and returned all donations to the club.
Pastor Bill Bruneau of Penn Friends Church offered a prayer to the success of the club and its after school program.
Last week members had a work day at the club and moved furniture and made a staircase safe by putting up paneling.
Penn Friends is also combining its Harvest Festival, planned also on the opening day of the club.
Penn's youth members will be manning the games for the children and hay rides will be offered.
There will be scavenger hunts and apple bobbing. There are also bands scheduled to play throughout the day until the celebration grand opening party ends at 9 p.m.
Normal hours for the club following the opening will be on Tuesdays after school, from 3 to 8 p.m. and on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Diamond Cove Church will also be helping by selling baked goods.
Wiggins, McFarland and the whole board expresses their thanks to the Penn Friends and all those others who have shown positive support for the project.