Former Miamisburg Youth Center board member Carolyn Kilpatrick talks about the history of the center.

Miamisburg Youth Center closes after 40 years

The Miamisburg Youth Center has closed after 40 years offering kids a place to go after school.

Earlier this year, the center closed quietly: in February for drop-ins and in June for students serving school suspensions.

Started by churches and community leaders in the early 1970s, the downtown center served countless kids from 8 to 15 years old.

“It kept me out of trouble. It kept me off the street,” said Billy Gibson, a light equipment operator with the city of Miamisburg who attended programs there for six years and worked at the center.

During fall break, the city hopes to reopen the center.

“We feel there is a definite need,” said Debbie McLaughlin, the city’s parks and recreation director.

The center began in an old building where the civic center now sits, officials said. It incorporated as a non-profit on Dec. 29, 1972, according to the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office.

“It started with churches and local officials worried about all the kids hanging around downtown. Wanting something for the kids to do,” said Sue Krichbaum, the center’s director from 1978 to 1999.

At no cost to the kids, volunteers shared crafts, cooking and other hobbies and skills, as well as tutoring and counseling.

“We were amazed at how many of those kids that had no steady adults in their life,” Krichbaum said.

When the civic center was built, the youth center moved into a nearby building purchased with a grant. It expanded into a building at 224 Maple St., behind the civic enter, in a building also housing the city food bank, after the city purchased property next door, said Carolyn Kilpatrick, the board’s final treasurer.

The city, along with businesses, churches and individuals, funded the center. The budget approached $100,000 a year. The United Way of Greater Dayton provided partial funding. The Miamisburg City Schools funded a program there for students on suspension.

“It was always a constant struggle to find funds,” Krichbaum said.

Supporters held fundraisers. An annual chili dinner, serving as many as 400-500 supporters, offered the kids a way to give back, while reminding community members about the center.

The city continued to provide the facility, but stopped contributing operating funds in 1985.

In 2008, the United Way — facing a reduction in contributions — stopped funding the center.

Other contributions ebbed. Fewer kids were coming in.

In 2012, Kinder Elementary was closed while under construction. The middle school moved out of downtown.

“When school was out, they would walk over. Now they get on the bus and go home,” Kilpatrick said.

In July, the board dissolved.

“We had to shut the doors,” Kilpatrick said. “I’m really, really sad.”

Last week, workers were painting and renovating the interior.

This fall, the city hopes to reopen, at no charge to the kids, with city staff and $22,000 of $30,000 budgeted for the school year program. A summer program is planned.

“The city is willing to support it, but we cannot afford to fully fund it,” McLaughlin said.

For information, 937-847-6631.

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