Young Men United held their annual roadblock fundraiser Saturday in McMinnville with a new goal this year.
President Donald Crisp said Young Men United will be raising money to continue restoring the Bernard School in Warren County. Crisp said this is an important piece of history to local African Americans and sits across the street from where he grew up.
He said he hopes to create a community center for everyone to be able to come together.
“Come through the roadblock and you know… give from your heart, it’s a good cause and good thing,” Crisp said. “This is for everybody, like I said it’s for the whole community. It’s for black, white, Hispanic… you know everybody’s welcome to come to the community center and participate in anything we’re doing.”
Crisp said renovation efforts have been going on since February of this year. Crisp said all that remains of the African American school is the gym and changing building built by Millionaire philanthropist Julius Rosenwald.
“We have painted the whole gymnasium, we have basically 99 percent of the floors done, I think we need to put one more coat of polyurethane on it,” Crisp said. “We’re in the process of putting bathrooms in and then we have the change building, a smaller adjacent building… that we’ve got an office in there.”
However, Crisp said that’s only the short term goals before making the push to become a full fledged community center.
“Kids can come in and play ball and have different activities, we have video games and different things… pool tables, it has a big basement, so we’ve got a lot of room,” Crisp said. “Once we get it operational we’ll be renting it for reunions or wedding receptions or parties and things like that.”
Crisp said the Young Men United mission of building character began in 1989. He said he knew at this time the young men in his community needed an outlet to reach their true potential and wants to see that mission carried on.
“We had so many kids that were getting on the wrong road, they were out selling drugs, getting in trouble, getting thrown in jail and stuff like that, and so we decided to step in and see if we could save some of them,” Crisp said. “We’re just wanting to get it for the future generations to come and we’re hoping right now we’re grooming some younger guys so they can step in and continue our work when we’re gone.”