A look inside the Change Center and the effort to help Knoxville's at-risk youth
In the heart of Knoxville's inner city, the hopes of many are pinned on one building.
Back in April city leaders, law enforcement and private groups came together to raise funds for the Change Center.
A facility designed to give young people two things they need – a safe place to have fun and job skills.
"We are all a community and everything that happens in every part of the community affects all of us,” said Change Center Executive Director Nicole Chandler.
According to the Knoxville Police Department – the facility will be right in the middle of where 76 percent of the city's homicides happen. Pastor Daryl Arnold leads Overcoming Believers Church and sees firsthand why so many young people make the wrong choice when it comes to crime.
"When you find yourself struggling with your back up against the wall, you are tempted to feed your family however you can,” Arnold said.
The Change Center aims to address that issue by investing in the community and the people.
"Our goal next year is to create three new businesses that are owned in this community that create 60 new jobs, and the year after that 5 new businesses and 160 new jobs,” explained Change Center Chief Financial and Entrepreneurial Officer Bruce Charles.
Right now the main focus is fundraising, putting every penny to good use. So far, the group has raised $1.8 million. Construction is expected to start in November.
Even with bare walls, it's not hard to see what this place will be. The group has high hopes of raising up Knoxville’s at-risk young people.
"The Change Center is going to make sure they're not helpless. That's what we want to do. We don't want to produce a center of handout. We want to produce a center of hand up,” said Arnold.
The groups is hosting a fundraiser in October to get them closer to their $3 million goal. They say any donation helps in the quest to help young people in Knoxville.