Roanoke non-profit hopes to give kids a summer unlike ever before

Roanoke Valley News

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — A Roanoke organization is hoping to raise big money this weekend.

Working with children has always been a passion for Kiesha Preston.

“From teaching pre-school to substitute teaching in Roanoke City Public Schools, I’ve always just been really passionate about children and really passionate about giving back to the community,” Preston said.

As development director at the West End Center for Youth, her passion only grows.

“I think that it’s really great that kids have somewhere they can go after school, so they’re not out getting into things they’re not supposed to.”

Since 1979, the non-profit organization has helped kids in disadvantaged areas around Roanoke. The center was started in direct response to rising crime rates, particularly in the West End neighborhood.

For decades, the center has served as a vital resources for families in need, offering educational programs to help children succeed as adults.

Currently, the organization provides programs for 70 children, but in the summer, the number jumps to 150 children.

While the summer activities are the most popular, funding is still needed for staff to operate.

For Ashley Carter and her three kids, the center is a vital resource.

“Their favorite thing is probably their summer program. While I’m working and in school and stuff, they don’t have to be at home. They get out. They go into the community. They go swimming. They go skating,” Carter said.

Carter says her life gets pretty hectic, as an entrepreneur and full-time student at EPCI University in Roanoke.

“Having somewhere for the kids to go so that I can still work and go to school was definitely a big help,” Carter explained.

The center’s annual “Spring Bling” fundraiser will include a variety of events, from a pre-recorded fashion show to a silent auction.

Despite the fundraiser being virtual again this year, staff are hoping to meet their goal of $20,000.

“We really hope that this fundraiser is a success. We really want as many of the community members as possible to try and get involved with it,” Preston said.

Giving kids a summer, unlike ever before.

The fundraiser starts Friday, April 30 and concludes Sunday, May 2. For ways on how you can donate, visit their website.

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