Financial assistance for local youth and teenagers will be available when the Douglas County Community and Senior Center begins operation, thanks to an assist being dished out by the MEFIYI Foundation.
County commissioners at their regularly scheduled meeting on Oct. 3 unanimously approved an agreement to provide a youth and teen annual scholarship program for passes to the community center. The agreement between the Douglas County Community Services/Parks and Recreation Department and MEFIYI — an acronym of Me for Incredible Youth Incorporated — also supports the Douglas County Juvenile Probation program.
The bottom line is going to be assisting youth ages 6 to 18 in the community, said JoJo Townsell, founder and director of MEFIYI. The community center, which is targeted to open in February 2015, will charge annual fees of $79 for youth, $219 for adults and $179 for senior citizens.
The purpose of the scholarship is to bring youth to the community center who might not otherwise be able to pay the annual pass fee.
“We want to try to ensure that our youth in general have a chance to utilize the facility because it’s for the community,” Townsell said. “It’s something our kids can really thrive on, so they have something to do after school and through summer.”
County Commission Chairman Greg Lynn said on Friday the MEFIYI Foundation’s contribution is a “win-win” for the community.
“We think it’s a terrific deal,” Lynn said. “From our point of view, we want to maximize use of the community center, and this is a way to jump start it.”
Lynn said Townsell deserved thanks from the community for his efforts. Douglas County Community Services/Parks and Recreation Department Director Scott Morgan echoed that.
“We’re really proud to be partners with MEFIYI, and JoJo and Suzi Townsell,” said Morgan. “They have done a lot in our community, and I see them doing a lot more.
“There are no boundaries or barriers from preventing any young person from being in this building Friday or Saturday night, or after school.”
The resolution says MEFIYI will provide scholarships or donated memberships to youth recommended or referred by the Douglas County Juvenile Probation Office.
This partnership also encourages facility use and sports tournaments through the MEFIYI Foundation.
“There will be a lot of activities we hope, not only with the parks and rec, but with other collaborations that we’ll be able to provide a lot of fun things for our kids to be involved in,” Townsell said.
When the program begins, applications may be filed either through the Community Services/Parks and Recreation Department or through the MEFIYI office.
“They would do an application that would go through our committee just to ensure that once we approve a scholarship the scholarship recipient understands what the guidelines are, which is basically to be an upstanding person while they’re at the community center,” Townsell said.
While the program allows the distribution of scholarships to boys and girls 6 to 18, Townsell noted the focus will be on teenagers.
“There’s a priority to make sure our teens have a place to go,” he said. “We want to ensure to our youth, this is some place that they can come to and enjoy.”
Chief Juvenile Probation Officer Scott Shick said the scholarships provided by MEFIYI are an example how private and public entities can work together for the common good.
He said the foundation of the Juvenile Probation Office is to hold youth offenders accountable and then offer them the means to get back on track.
“MEFIYI has a tradition of unconditional support and guidance for the youth in our community,” he said. “MEFIYI uses athletics, physical education, community service and now the scholarships as a foundation to support children and youth. This is a great example of a public and private partnership for the common good of Douglas County youth.”
The scholarships will offer an opportunity for youth to participate in recreation in a positive way.
“It’s a great way to teach them to have fun the right way,” Shick said.