Family Resource Center gets makeover

Sunday, April 6, 2008
FRED LYNCH ~ flynch@semissourian.com Barb Schweigert of Ste. Genevieve, Mo., installed carpet squares in the children's library Saturday at the Cape Area Family Resource Center.

Zach Carron, 15, has an iPod with more than 400 songs and 50 videos. He says he has a good life.

This is why the Perryville, Mo., teen was on his knees Saturday morning at the Family Resource Center in Cape Girardeau. He came with 20 other members of the Perryville-based Vincentian Marian Youth for a two-day mission.

They scraped paint, repainted, and removed and replaced rotted wood and carpet.

After carefully cutting a metal threshold strip, Carron slipped it into place between the newly carpeted playroom and the wooden hallway floor. He nailed it into place, brushing his fingers over the surface, checking for smoothness. He volunteers for two reasons.

"You get close to Jesus and you know you're helping people in need," he said.

Denise Lincoln, the center's director, had been scrambling to get such help since a Feb. 5 state inspection identified a host of safety and fire violations. The inspection was sparked by a grant application for a part-time children's program, which led to a requirement for the center to get a child-care license.

The center, at 1202 S. Sprigg St., has run a free after-school program for six years, typically drawing 15 students a day.

FRED LYNCH ~ flynch@semissourian.com Rachael Naeger, left, of Ozora, Mo., and Karren Tarrillion of Perryville, Mo., with the Vincentian Marian Youth painted downstairs at the Cape Area Family Resource Center on Saturday.

"We don't want to be a child-care facility," Lincoln said. "We simply want to provide resources to the families and their kids."

Initially the resource center's board suggested closing the facility, but agreed to remain open as long as repairs were being made.

The resource center is a 67-year-old former church building. Structurally sound, the improvements made by Vincentian Marian Youth will make it safer and more accessible. This weekend's work included replacing a rotting wheelchair ramp.

Normally, the teens working on Vincentian Marian Youth missions outnumber adults, said Linda Wibbenmeyer, who organized the work. But this weekend's project coincided with proms for both Perryville and Ste. Genevieve schools, so she invited adults. She arrived Friday with seven students and 15 adults.

FRED LYNCH ~ flynch@semissourian.com Volunteers worked at the Cape Area Family Resource Center, 1202 S. Sprigg St., on Saturday.

"We convinced a lot of businesses to donate supplies," said Wibbenmeyer, an MRI technologist. Carpet Korner and Holloway Carpets donated flooring; Southeast Missouri Builder's Supply and Buchheit added lumber; Girardeau Distributing gave adhesives, nails and construction staples; Cape Color World discounted paint, she said.

Vincentian Marian Youth, formed in 1830 in France, is an international group for high school-age students. Its missions are based on Luke 4:18, "He has sent me," which implores the faithful to help the less fortunate.

Wibbenmeyer said members are often privileged children. Those living in Perryville are often more aware of Cape Girardeau's shopping centers than they are of the city's disadvantaged families, she said.

Leann Marquart, 15, joined nearly three years ago. Her brother had been a member and he seemed to have fun, she said. On Saturday, she organized books in the basement library, helped recarpet floors and install chicken wire to keep animals out from under the wheelchair ramp.

FRED LYNCH ~ flynch@semissourian.com Deb Fox of Oak Ridge painted a window frame in an upstairs room Saturday at the Cape Area Family Resource Center.

Vincentian Marian Youth, she said, "helps me to refocus. I have a good life, but not everyone does," she said. "There are little things I can do to help someone."

More work remains at the resource center.

"We still have things to do, with adding egresses, and a fire alarm and sprinkling system, things that cost big, big money," Lincoln said. "It's more than volunteers can do. We need some major fundraising."

pmcnichol@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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