Community center facing closure to debut documentary - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Community center facing closure to debut documentary

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The Presbyterian Community Center The Presbyterian Community Center
Lavel White Lavel White
White created the "More Than Bricks and Mortar" documentary with the help of a three-member crew after being commissioned by the Louisville Metro Housing Authority. White created the "More Than Bricks and Mortar" documentary with the help of a three-member crew after being commissioned by the Louisville Metro Housing Authority.
As a revitalized Sheppard Square housing complex continues to be built across the street from the center, P.C.C. regulars said they worry about the future of their neighborhood. As a revitalized Sheppard Square housing complex continues to be built across the street from the center, P.C.C. regulars said they worry about the future of their neighborhood.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The Presbyterian Community Center will welcome the public for the premiere of a locally produced documentary one day before closing its doors for good.

Beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday, Louisville film director Lavel White will debut his documentary, "More Than Bricks and Mortar: The Sheppard Square Story" inside the gym of the Presbyterian Community Center at the intersection of South Hancock and East Jacob streets in Louisville.

"The people were more than bricks and mortar, we are more than the stereotypes that are perceived in a housing development like this," said White.

White said he decided to showcase his documentary at the center affectionately coined the P.C.C. because of its proximity in the Smoketown neighborhood and importance to so many Sheppard Square tenants.

"The Presbyterian Community Center was my beacon, a safe haven for me," began White. "I was able to come and play basketball, participate in youth programs that I would not have had access to throughout the city of Louisville."

Having grown up at Sheppard Square, White said he took full advantage of a variety of programs offered at the P.C.C. including youth sports and the Dare To Care food bank.

"I was able to come and get food from Dare to Care when we didn't have food at home," remembered White.

In addition to recreational activities for youth, the Presbyterian Community Center also offers health and education resources including a child development center.

Come Friday, those programs will stop.

"The Presbyterian Community Center has run out of money," said Mark Hebert, a member of the Presbyterian Community Center Board of Directors.

"All programming at the Presbyterian Center will stop this Friday. That means all 200 kids who come here for Kids Café after school; we're looking for a new place to send them for those services," said Hebert. "There are adult services here, the gym, recreation services for kids; all those things will stop this Friday at the Presbyterian Community Center."

According to Hebert, the closure comes after the center failed to receive enough grant money to stay open following prior cuts to programming, staff, and failed fund-raising efforts.

Previous plans had the center slated to shut down operations Friday, August 30 with its child development center remaining intact. With the center's money tank now on "E," Hebert said the child development program may no longer be spared from the chopping block.

"We hope to keep the child development center open. That is our hope," began Hebert. "Right now, with the struggles we are having financially, they may have some bearing on the child development center. So we need folks in this community to step up.

As a revitalized Sheppard Square housing complex continues to be built across the street from the center, P.C.C. regulars said they worry about the future of their neighborhood.

"If the center gets closed it's going to be more violence out here in the streets than what you see now," said Smoketown neighbor Dianne Petty.

"If they think the Presbyterian Community Center is worth saving and worth reopening, they need to step up with their dollars," said Hebert. "That's what we'll be doing over the next couple of days is a last ditch effort to fund the Presbyterian Community Center and the Presbyterian Child Development Center."

Hebert said the public can make donations by phone by calling the Presbyterian Community Center at (502) 584-0201 or electronically by visiting pcclouisville.com.

"The board members will be making phone calls, sort of a telethon," said Hebert.

In the next two days, Hebert said P.C.C. board members will give it everything they have got to keep the doors to the center open, but emphasized saving the Presbyterian Community Center will require matched support from the community through donations.

"the doors will be closed indefinitely until we can get at least three months of operating expenses in hand to reopen the Presbyterian Community Center," said Hebert.

If the funding is not secured in time,Thursday evening may be the last time Smoketown residents are allowed inside the center during White's documentary screening.

"It's going to be a travesty that PCC is closing down," said White. "Sheppard Square in the Smoketown community is historic because Muhammad Ali trained at the Presbyterian Community Center in this neighborhood. Lenny Lyles lived in Sheppard Square. Councilman Darryl Owens, whose now in the state legislature in Frankfort, is from this neighborhood. So many great people come from this neighborhood and it has so much history and lineage that other places do not have."

White created the "More Than Bricks and Mortar" documentary with the help of a three-member crew after being commissioned by the Louisville Metro Housing Authority to document the memories of former and future Sheppard Square residents throughout the complex's redevelopment.

"The new development is going up as we speak," began White. "A lot of people reflected on their experiences living at Sheppard Square."

The screening of "More Than Bricks and Mortar: the Sheppard Square Story" is free and open to the public. The event will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Stay with WAVE 3 News on-air and wave3.com for updates on this developing story.

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