You can feel the energy at 14th and Chestnut. Kids from the neighborhood love to play and learn.
For some, this community center is more than just a hang out.
“14th and Chestnut is so important to me because it was a getaway,” said Laresha Johnson.
“Today, thousands of children have gone through these doors,” said Executive Director Pastor Bill Felts. “We like to think that it has made a difference in their lives.”
A difference indeed. Laresha Johnson grew up coming to the community center. Now she gives back by working as a leader.
“As I got older I realized the love I have for kids. I like to work with them, I like to be around them. I like to have fun with them. But, I also like to teach them from right from wrong and just knowing I can come here every day and have some impact in their lives, makes me feel better.”
Laresha is just seventeen.
Everyday she works with many youth who face difficult situations. She has an infectious personality and strong faith.
These things coupled with the many lessons she learned at 14th and Chestnut help her to inspire many kids.
“One of my biggest goals is to is to impact somebody’s life, and maybe I have already done that cause sometimes you just don’t know.”
“She inspires me to be a doctor,” said center goer, Aalyah Holman.
“She overcomes, and I think that inspires other people to be like that. I know it does me,” said Pastor Felts. “I probably want to do my very best when I am around Laresha because I want her to be inspired by what I do, and I think she has a tremendous future ahead of her. It seems like the most things she gets involved with she just kind of moves right up to the top. She’s like the cream going to the top of the pale.”
Laresha is on the honor roll at Terre Haute North High School.
She’s a part of the Color Guard, German Club and is a Link Crew Leader, but best of all she has her eyes on the prize when it comes to her future.
Because of her experiences at 14th and Chestnut, she wants to go into the field of social work
“I started to realize even more that these kids need help, and some of them just problems at home. They should not be going through. But yet again they have to put up with it, and I would love to help kids who are going things through that.”
Is there anything you wanted to tell Laresha, Pastor Felts?
“I have all the confidence in the world that she is going to be a terrific young woman. And she is going to make a big difference where ever she goes and whoever life she touches.