The following article is reprinted with permission from the Cass County Start-Gazette, a publication of Beardstown Newspapers. 11/18/2004 weekly news.
Triopia Under God gets a home
Arenzville couple donates building for youth center
... Several months ago, Theresa Langley and Jim Lynn were leaders of a small Christian youth group; a handful of teenagers from the Arenzville area who wanted to meet in fellowship. The non-denominational group began meeting on alternate Sunday evenings, at the United Methodist Church, in Arenzville. The kids named themselves TUG, an acronym for Triopia Under God. Christian beliefs were used for the behavior and activity guidelines, but no particular denomination was promoted. In fact, while Langley and Lynn stressed the need to adhere to specific rules of decency and discretion, there was no pressure to attend regular church services, or to declare a religious affiliation.
Word spread about the caring leaders, the comfortable atmosphere, and the good clean fun that was included in each meeting. The numbers grew, and attendees now hail from Arenzville, Chapin, Jacksonville, Beardstown and other surrounding communities. It became obvious, from the increased numbers, the group needed more room to accommodate the unexpected crowd, and to allow for additional activities and programs. Langley and Lynn, and their flock of young people, came to the conclusion they needed their own building. Since September, the kids have held projects, like selling cookie dough and washing cars, to create a building fund now worth over $1,000. The considerable gap between that amount and the cost of a building didn't keep the dream from being discussed.
The decision was made to share the idea with the community. Hopefully, others would understand the need to create a place the youth from the area could call their own. An informational meeting was advertised, for Tuesday, November 9, at the Arenzville United Methodist Church. Ten community members attended. Theresa Langley and Jim Lynn had prepared an agenda, and were ready to explain their mission and prayed that suggestions and ideas would support them. Lynn provided a short history of TUG, and gave a heartfelt description of the dedication the youth had exhibited in earning the money designated for their building.
What came next was better than most Hollywood scripts. Diana Hart, Arenzville resident and wife of Neal Hart, told the two youth leaders the Hart family had decided to buy the Side Door building and donate it for the youth center, in memory of Diana's father-in-law, the late A.C. Hart. The structure sits in the business district of Arenzville, on Frederick Street. Its excellent condition, and updated facilities almost makes a turnkey site for the youth center. Lynn and Langley were momentarily speechless, but regained their composure to express their gratitude and appreciation for the family's generosity. The dream was going to be a reality.
A.C. Hart, a former Arenzville banker, died in July 2004 at the age of 101. He had a soft spot for the children and young people in town, but also gained the respect of the grown-ups by being a staunch supporter of families struggling to pay for homes, the small business owners, and the independent farmers. Diana Hart expressed the family's wish there be a plaque installed, designating the facility as being in memory of A.C. Everyone agreed it was a fitting tribute to a man who had loved and cared so much for the community's youngest residents. The next step, for the organizers, is to complete the not-for-profit application.
The "youth center" will be the owner and operator of the facility. A governing board will need to be formed, to be the decision-maker and gatekeeper. The TUG organization will use the center for meetings and activities, but the yet--to--be--named youth center will be open to other groups, and will provide programs and sponsor events for the area's youth population. Those present for the November 9 meeting agreed the center should function under Christian-oriented guidelines, and schedule volunteer chaperones for free-time activity, as well as for special events. An open door policy will be incorporated to encourage any and all youth to use the center, and share in the fellowship. A steering committee meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, December 9, at the Arenzville United Methodist Church. Guest speakers will be invited to advise the group in areas of law, accounting, and not-for-profit application. All community members wishing to assist in the formation of the Youth Center are asked to attend the December meeting.
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