Lowe’s grant will help create new center for Aiken teens
Lowe’s is investing in the future of Aiken’s teenagers.
The home improvement company recently awarded the Salvation Army of Aiken a $50,000 grant to create a teen center near downtown where middle and high school students, ages 12 and up, can do their homework, get help with schoolwork and participate in planned, age-appropriate activities.
With the grant, the Salvation Army will renovate the Nancy Moore Thurmond Boys and Girls Club building, which opened in about 1995, at the southeast corner of Laurens Street and Gayle Avenue. The club’s programs for younger children will continue at the Salvation Army’s church across Gayle Avenue.
“There hasn’t been a teen center in this area, but there are about 1,200 at-risk youth in this community within a mile to two-mile radius,” said Colen Lindell, who is on the Boys and Girls Club board. “Kids can come here after school and be in a safe, nurturing environment and learn positive life skills.”
The teen center also would provide students access to resources and technology they need to do their schoolwork but might not have at home, said Lt. April Tiller, who with her husband, Lt. Randall Tiller, became commanders of the Aiken Salvation Army on July 1.
“Sometimes, these kids don’t have a pencil, let alone the Internet to do their homework,” Tiller said. “We have the technology. We have Internet for them and regular school supplies. They’ll get equipped with the tools that they need straight out of the gate. We’ll have trained staff, too, who will support them and lead them in extracurricular activities based on their age groups.”
Corey Slie, the store manager of the Aiken Lowe’s, said the company is nationally affiliated with the Boys and Girls Club
“I’m looking forward to redoing the inside and making the building a place youth can call home after school,” he said. “We’ve partnered with some of the installers we work with at the store, and they’re going to come out and give their time to help do some of the construction. They’ll replace doors and window to help out the community.”
Lowe’s also will contribute $2,500 each year to the Boys and Girls Club and allow employees time to volunteer to help with renovations through its Hero Project, said Victoria Cato, the Human Resources manager at Lowe’s of Aiken.
“We’re supporting our community, and we’re giving back through community service,” she said.
Jennifer Jamison, the interior specialist for the Aiken Lowes and a registered interior designer, said she plans to give the 1950s building, which was a bait and tackle shop, “state-of-the-art technology and the latest and greatest finishes” that will appeal to teenagers.
“We want to make it a comforting, engaging environment for youth,” Jamison said. “We want it to be fun and energetic, appealing to teens instead of adults.”
Andrew Siders, another board member, said he’s “thankful” to Lowes for the grant and their participation in the project.
“I just want to thank Lowes for being a community sponsor and such a good influence in the community,” he said. “They do a lot of great things, and we’re just happy to be part of what they’re doing in the community.”
Tiller said she’s excited about having a new teen center.
“We’re really excited to be the hands and feet that we need to be in the community to make this happen for the Boys and Girls Club and put a new face on this corner of Aiken,” she said.
Lindell said the goal is to have renovations complete in December, adding the board is asking for community members to help meet that goal and lower construction costs.
“As this project gets started, we’ll need volunteers,” he said. “We appreciate all the help we can get.”
To volunteer or for information, call the Salvation Army at 803-641-4141. The church is at 322 Gayle Ave.