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The Crossing for the community

Thu., March 29, 2007

An old, dark and dusty former post office and light manufacturing facility now has a bright new future as Millwood’s first youth center.

Thanks to the combined efforts of Millwood Presbyterian Church, retired businessman Roger Crawford, plus a generous business community and volunteers, the building on Euclid Avenue just west of Argonne, is ready to move into a new mission.

The center will be known as The Crossing, according to Millwood Presbyterian Pastor Craig Goodwin. It takes its name in part from a nearby railroad crossing.

Collecting and delivering mail, and even reportedly serving as a factory where rubber gloves were once manufactured, the building will now be a gathering place for kids in the community.

Dave Milliken, program director at Hutton Settlement, is one of those people who came forward with help. “We had a long-standing relationship with Millwood Pres,” Milliken said. Hutton is a residential group-care facility founded in 1919 for kids who are unable to reside with family members.

Milliken and Goodwin met for coffee. “We were talking about youth and their development. He (Goodwin) said they had this plan to utilize this building for a youth center.”

Milliken told Goodwin he had kids that want to contribute and want to serve. They put their heads together and decided to benefit from each other.

“Our kids helped put on a community fundraiser,” Milliken said. The event attracted a cross-section of the community and the subsequent program and dinner raised some $3,500. “That was all inspired by the kids.”

Millwood Presbyterian has long been a magnet in the Millwood area according to Milliken. “They have been great about connecting the community,” he said.

With no central location for youths to gather, the church helped solve the problem by offering property it owned. “They (the kids) kind of sit at their house or walk the streets,” said Milliken.

While Milliken and Millwood were a catalyst in cementing the need and mission for the center, Crawford provided much of the good old elbow grease and was the traditional driving force in the project.

Goodwin said, “we asked Roger to head up the project.” Crawford is a great leader “who likes to get things done,” added Goodwn.

Crawford, who was honored recently for his part in the project with a surprise birthday party, said, “I have a special place in my heart for Young Life,” the organization he hopes will find a home at the center.

Two years ago, Millwood Presbyterian started a partnership with Young Life, a ministry group focused on junior and senior high age kids. The string of storefronts that the church has owned for the past six years serves as an office for Young Life.

Currently there is a Wild Life group (grades 6 through 8) formed that meets at the center every other Friday. Goodwin hopes to form a Young Life chapter for high school kids next year.

Crawford has belonged to Millwood church since grade school. He finds it ironic how Hutton Settlement has come to the aid of the new center. “Back when we were young we tutored the Hutton Settlement.”

With three grandkids that had gone through the Young Life program he wanted to see a group started at West Valley High School. “The youth have not had a good facility. So I decided to get behind it.” Crawford said.

The old building had low ceiling and wooden posts. Now it has a spacious high ceiling and a room free of any visible supports.

“I’m a great believer that if we are going to do something for the kids it should be first class,” Crawford said. But “there were days I wondered what did I get myself into,” said the former owner of Thermo Guard insulation.

Between volunteers and donors from the business community, the $100,000 plus project, which began in the fall of 2006, took only $30,000 in hard cash to complete. Among the businesses that donated to the project are Valley Glass (windows and automatic door), Standard Plumbing (HVAC) and Fred’s Appliance.

Some 2,000 hours of donated labor went into the project, according to Goodwin.

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