WINCHESTER — When she took over the Youth Development Center (YDC) last year, LaTasha Do’zia-Earley became so engrossed in providing services for local kids that she almost overlooked the condition of the nonprofit’s nearly 30-year-old building.

“We discovered some hiccups,” the executive director said on Monday.

The YDC has been closed since Aug. 12 so volunteers and staff could spruce up the facility at 3 Battaile Drive.

The first order of business was getting rid of old furniture and equipment, as well as unneeded items that had accumulated in closets and offices over the past few decades. Do’zia-Earley said a 30-yard-long trash container was brought in and placed in the parking lot.

“Within 20 minutes, we filled up that Dumpster,” she said with a laugh. “It was great to purge all that stuff and see all the space we had in our closets.”

Do’zia-Earley said they also started painting the interior to match the YDC’s new logo colors of purple, orange and blue, which replaced the teal from the previous logo. That work continued Monday with assistance from a Community Inmate Work Force from the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center, and is expected to continue all week until the YDC reopens on Monday.

However, the recent cleaning and painting revealed some much more extensive problems.

“There are definitely some major building repairs that need to take place,” Do’zia-Earley said, including a roof replacement, drywall and flooring fixes, a new heating and cooling system, and more. “It’s a beautiful 22,000-square-foot building, but it needs some care.”

Major work requires major money, so the YDC is launching a new fundraising effort, For Our Tomorrow, with a goal of collecting $250,000 to pay for building repairs and maintenance.

A new heating and cooling system has already been installed, and Do’zia-Earley is hoping to recoup that expenditure with the For Our Tomorrow campaign.

As for the roof, she said it is beyond repair and needs to be replaced soon to prevent water damage in the building. Along with a new roof, the YDC needs a new swale to funnel stormwater away from the structure.

“Without this building, we don’t have anyplace for our young people to come and absorb our programs, or for our community partners,” Do’zia-Earley said.

In addition to being a social and recreational hub for youth in the Northern Shenandoah Valley, the YDC recently incorporated the operations of the former Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Virginia — now known as Baker’s Anchor Mentoring (BAM) — and is preparing office space for the new Timbrook Achievement Center (TAC), a program for at-risk teenagers that succeeds the defunct Timbrook Youth Reporting Center in Winchester.

Additionally, Do’zia-Earley’s nonprofit theater company, Selah Theater Project, left its rented facility in Front Royal and moved into the YDC.

The center’s growing number of services is what initially compelled Do’zia-Earley to temporarily close the YDC for cleaning and painting.

“We need to make sure our building is safe and well-kept for our nonprofit partners that support young people,” she said.

The 1,460 people on the YDC’s mailing list will soon receive a brochure detailing the For Our Tomorrow campaign and the capital improvement needs that have surfaced during the spruce up. Do’zia-Earley said the center is also hiring a development coordinator who will create partnerships and solicit contributions from area businesses and organizations.

Additionally, the YDC is setting up a web page that will allow individuals to make one-time and recurring donations to the nonprofit organization.

“I am optimistic that the community will re-invest in our young people and this community asset that we have here,” Do’zia-Earley said.

For more information about the YDC or to make a donation to the For Our Tomorrow campaign, visit myydc.org.

— Contact Brian Brehm at bbrehm@winchesterstar.com

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