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Henry Davison Youth Center closes weeks after founder's death

HD Youth Center to become 'Henry Davison Scholarship Fund'

Tutor Darcie Torres assists William Deason, 12 at the new post-flood HD Youth Center 1445 Mt. Vernon Road SE on Friday November 8, 2013. Working parents needed a safe place for their children to go after school, and the H.D. Youth Center has serves the Cedar Rapids community by providing meals and after-school programs free of charge for those children. Their goal is to provide a safe, drug-free and supervised learning environment for children and improve their lives through education, socialization, food and other positive influences. (Justin Torner/Freelance for the Gazette)
Tutor Darcie Torres assists William Deason, 12 at the new post-flood HD Youth Center 1445 Mt. Vernon Road SE on Friday November 8, 2013. Working parents needed a safe place for their children to go after school, and the H.D. Youth Center has serves the Cedar Rapids community by providing meals and after-school programs free of charge for those children. Their goal is to provide a safe, drug-free and supervised learning environment for children and improve their lives through education, socialization, food and other positive influences. (Justin Torner/Freelance for the Gazette)
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The Henry Davison Youth Center will shut down Saturday, the center’s board announced Friday, and its remaining assets will go toward youth scholarships.

Henry Davison opened the center, meant to be a safe place for Cedar Rapids children and teens to go after school, in 1997.

Davison died Feb. 9. He was 92.

Declining enrollment and dipping funds led the board to transition to the “Henry Davison Scholarship Fund,” HD Youth Center board member Amanda Zhorne said. In January, the center averaged about eight students per day.

“We know that with the funds we have, we’re not going to support the daily operations of a youth center for the long-term,” Zhorne said. “By breaking it into scholarships, we could really continue our commitment to the community over several years.”

In a Friday news release, Board President Steve Springer said the center’s financials would have supported as little as one more year of operation.

The value of the scholarships has not been determined and will depend on transition expenses as well as the shedding of assets — likely including the center’s space at 1445 Mount Vernon Road.

The board began considering closing the center before Davison died last month, Zhorne said.

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“Henry wanted to be able to do everything, and we wish we could do everything,” she said, noting Davison had been supportive of a scholarship program. “ ... He would be obviously heartbroken — like a lot of us are — that we can’t maintain both, but I think he would happy with the direction.”

For the families that relied on the center, Zhorne said the board is hopeful they use “some of the other great resources” in the area as HD Youth Center closes its doors.

“It’s a really tough loss, and life sucks sometimes,” she said. “I want (our kids) to know that the good parts were real and that people love them, and we hope that they carry that in their hearts as they go forward.”

• Comments: (319) 398-8330; molly.duffy@thegazette.com

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