The H.D. Youth Center with Soul Food finally has reopened its doors after it was shuttered by the 2008 flood.
Founder Henry Davison said the flood caused $90,000 in damage at the previous location, at 106 Third St. NW in Cedar Rapids.
Davison and the organization’s leaders soon found a new home for the center, away from the Cedar River's reach, and spent the past four years renovating an abandoned laundromat at 1445 Mt. Vernon Road SE.
The center resumed its after-school youth program at the beginning of October, and director Tammy Mims said she sees about 30 children at the center every day.
The not-for-profit organization provides a daily youth program from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. and on the weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The program provides tutoring, mentoring and outdoor activities, and a snack and dinner for children who attend.
“Feels good, like you have a new hat,” said Davison, 87, who opened the center in 1997 to give children a place to play in a safe environment. “It’s yours, it feels good.”
The organization also has provided free hot breakfasts for children and adults in the community.
In the years following the flood, Davison rented out space at the Jane Boyd Community Center where he could continue serving the daily breakfast, but wasn’t able to provide a place for community children to spend time.
The daily breakfasts will resume at the center on Dec. 1. The center provides all of its services at no cost, including Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.
Davison said it cost around $80,000 to get the center up and running again, with the help of volunteers and donations from the community.
Dan Olmstead, president of Olmstead Construction, helped coordinate building efforts and with the help of volunteers, including Built by Pros, a volunteer group of local building trades businesses, to turn the dilapidated laundromat into a kid-friendly place. Pat Loeffler, business agent with Carpenters Local 308, said more than 50 trades people clocked in at least 1,000 volunteer hours to completely gut the place, fixing everything from electric work to replacing the roof.“It’s very gratifying knowing these kids had a place to go and not on the streets,” Loeffler said. “There are not very many places for kids to go.”