Portland group wants to reopen boys and girls club - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Portland group wants to reopen boys and girls club

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Salvation Army's motto is "Doing the Most Good" but some Portland residents argue that's not the case in their neighborhood.  For two years the building that used to house the Boys and Girls Club has been vacant and residents place the blame on the organization.

A bible verse is plastered on the window of what used to be the Portland Boys and Girls Club."For I the Lord Your God will hold your right hand saying to you fear not I will help you."

But Scott Harris is wondering where the help is. He's leading the charge to turn the building into a new youth development center. It was shut down two years ago in the midst of the recession.

"In 2011 the economy was such that the Salvation Army couldn't afford to maintain operations at its Boys and Girls Clubs," explains David Yarmuth, Salvation Army Community Relations Director.

A sign promoting Portland Pride reads "MOST Portland Youth don't smoke, drink or get high." But Portland residents say that's no longer the case.

"They don't have the structured activity after school," says Harris.

Harris suspects someone in the neighborhood created signs reading "Save our Club" and "Salvation Army Shame." He says the perception is that the Salvation Army has abandoned the neighborhood.

The Salvation Army Argues it has never left Portland, and while the Boys and Girls Club may be shut down it still operates one of its core centers in Portland.  

"It is a church, spiritual outreach, again after school programs, summer camps, senior programs," explained David Yarmuth.

Harris says the core center doesn't offer enough, and he wants the Salvation Army to donate the old building. It's currently for sale.

"It's just not in the best interest of not only the Salvation Army but in terms of the clients that we serve," said Yarmuth.

"The argument we make is they made a commitment to this community all those years. If you're going to tell me that $300,000 or whatever price they come up with they're going to get out of this building is going to do more good than an organization that can provide for a neighborhood for decades to come, there's not a price they can match."

Harris wants to name the Youth Center after Andy Maupin, a former Portland Boys and Girls Club mentor who recently died.  

The community continues to discuss possible ways to try to reopen the building.

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