Community outreach: CBC's new building designed to be catalyst for community
SIKESTON -- The Rev. L.J. Nabors, pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church, stood by the front door of the church's newest addition, the Family Life Outreach Center. Nabors smiled broadly as he welcomed the visitors during the center's open house.
The center, he explained, began with his vision to do something for the community.
"We needed to have a place for not only the black community, but the entire community," Nabors said. "This was done for the benefit of the community. We look forward to it being a catalyst for a lot of activities."
The center, located at 119 W. Trotter St., houses a full-service commercial kitchen, classrooms, meeting rooms and a gymnasium with a junior high regulation-size basketball court as well as a stage. There is a state-of-the-art sound system and cameras to allow for broadcasting of events in the gym to televisions throughout the building.
But Nabors' vision wasn't just of a building, but of what it could provide. His and the the Cornerstone Baptist Church congregation's plans are for the center to serve as an outlet for community youth activities.
Matthew Marshall, who serves as trustee chairman at Cornerstone Baptist Church, said the center's mission is to empower young people to "succeed mentally, spiritually, socially and economically." The emphasis, he continued, will be to provide constructive activities and positive reinforcement.
To do that, the building will become the center of a variety activities.
"There is a real need for community outreach all over Southeast Missouri," Marshall said. "The type of programming we want to provide will be educational, mentoring, business and job-skills related. The building will also be available for rental or lease for conferences, banquets and things such as concerts."
He said the gym can provide tables and seating for 500. Without tables, he said, there is room for 1,000.
Marshall and Demegee Redd, a church deacon and the director of the Family Life Center, agreed the gymnasium and the recreational activities will be a real draw for young people of all denominations.
They hope to offer after-school programs where students will have access to computers and do their homework along with participating in physical activities. Redd said they plan to have volunteers who can provide tutoring.
They want to reach out to other adults in the community establishing a mentoring program. According to Redd, they will ask business professionals to speak to the young people about their jobs, discuss the skills needed in today's work force and about starting a business.
However, Marshall added, it isn't just about the young people -- it is a community outreach. Part of the mission, he said, is for parents to become involved in classroom and recreational activities.
"We want parents to spend increased quality time with their children," he said. "We want to produce good citizens out of our youth,"
The center will be a place where community service projects are encouraged.
"We want to develop social networks and social bonds with the surrounding community," Marshall said.
Already several auxiliaries have formed at the center. He pointed out these groups have assisted with projects such as the Relay For Life, Lincoln University Extension Program and Big Brothers, Big Sisters.
A Scholarship Auxiliary was established in 2015 and now provides funds for students attending colleges. Through the Family Outreach Center donations were made to Sikeston High School's After Prom and to Missouri Missouri.
The church's Willing Working Women Auxiliary has used the facility to prepare food boxes given away at Thanksgiving and for their annual clothing give-away.
While the Willing Working Women Auxiliary have already hosted several workshops on health topics, Marshall said there are other plans including a possible blood drive and a food pantry.
"We are going to be a full-service organization," he said.