Momentum has picked back up once again to open the first youth center in Russellville in quite some time.

It was 2016, Will Sandlin and members of Center of the Mark Ministry felt there was a need for the community's children to have a safe place to be, a mentor to look up to, and direction in which to go.

“It is very rewarding working with the youth,” said Sandlin. “I remember when I was in the service after high school, I used to imagine having a camp where kids could go and experience things they could not otherwise experience.”

A building was found on 345 West Third Street and work began almost immediately attempting to turn what once served as state offices into a haven for kids after school let out. The project slowed down a bit due to financial constraints, as well as property red tape.

A Carpenter Foundation grant awarded to the ministry recently has allowed the project to kick into full steam ahead which is causing some anticipated excitement.

"We couldn't be more excited," said Joyce Sandlin of the grant received. "This will allow us to finish the renovations on the building, fill the inside with needed equipment, and operate for up to a year."

Center of the Mark Ministry began as a small outdoor Christian group for the youth in 2007. The ministry introduced kids to hunting and activities surrounding the outside experience. Almost a decade later the non-profit has now grown.

"The goal is to keep kids busy doing good and productive things rather than other influences keeping them busy doing unproductive things," said Joyce.

Sandlin said this is a non-denominational Christian based project, which will allow kids from 12 to 17 to come and spend time hanging out in a well-supervised area where they will be greeted with kindness and direction. From ping pong, volleyball and basketball to homework stations and tutoring, those who come to the center will find a safe and encouraging atmosphere they can count on.

“We feel our mission as Christians is to love God, serve Him and show it to others,” said Will. “We are hopeful the youth center will provide that. We have prayed a lot about this and we feel God is leading us in the right direction.”

The Sandlins are hoping the youth center will be open before Christmas. Will says he looks forward to the first day the center is open and seeing the faces of all the kids that walk through the door.

The Center of the Mark will be hosting a work day/open house at the new center on Saturday, Sept. 8 beginning at 8 a.m. Bring tools and come ready to work and enjoy helping to bring about a needed place for the community's youth or just stop by to see what God is doing. They will be grilling lunch for all those that come out Saturday.

“We still need so many things, but we know the Lord will provide. We know He will put this mission of the hearts of those who want to make a difference in the lives of our future generations,” said Will adding it will take community involvement to make this work.