The Salvation Army used to run its Sawyer operation out of the K.I. Sawyer Community Center but closed it last year as a cost-cutting move. Forsyth Township owns the building and reopened the center on June 16th.
“I used to always go here,” Gwinn Middle School incoming eighth-grader Faith Tosch said. “My dad used to work here when it was the Salvation Army, and we all miss Trish, the director of the old Salvation Army.”
“There’s no cussing or smoking,” Gwinn Middle School seventh-grader-to-be Leila Jaco said. “You can do fun things like dances and you get to see your friends.”
The center is open weekdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It offers a gymnasium, a library and movie lounge, arts and crafts and more.
“I like that they have things for everybody; not just for little kids or not just for big kids, for everybody,” Negaunee Middle School incoming seventh-grader Justice Kratz said. “The free lunch program actually really helps with everybody.”
The Gwinn schools serve a free lunch, paid for by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“I like it because it has a lot of things to play with,” Gwinn fifth-grader-to-be Arianna Collins said. “Over at the school, there’s not that much things to do. You get to just play outside.”
“This is my first year ever being here because we just moved here, but it is really fun,” incoming Gwinn fifth-grader Abbie Myers said. “They have a lot of cool things here.”
Many of the supplies, like the tables and chairs in the arts and crafts area, used to be in the now-closed Gilbert Elementary School. The Gwinn schools have loaned them to the center. Some of the other supplies came from a church in Harvey that recently closed.
“This building’s a really great thing because it gives the kids something to do instead of just riding around and getting into whatever kind of trouble they might be getting to otherwise,” Sawyer Community Center summer director Sadie Sirois said. “This gives them someplace to go with a little bit of supervision.”
Forsyth Township is funding the center with parks and recreation tax money.
“In the fall, we plan on keeping it open similar to how we do the Clubhouse in Gwinn, from 4 to 9 each evening, six days a week,” Forsyth Township clerk Jane Nordeen said.
The township is looking for volunteers to help staff the center during the fall and winter months.