Carbondale Church Group Lends a Hand to Cairo Residents

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By Evie Allen

CAIRO -- The View Church of Carbondale are helping one Cairo woman with her plans to create a new community center.

A former Catholic school will soon be the home of a new community center in Cairo. 

"We want to offer the children here, and our community, an experience in the arts," says Wilma Carter, founder of the program.

The E.R. Duncan Center for the Arts will be a place for young people to have a creative outlet.

"We're speaking dance," says Carter. "We're speaking martial arts. We're speaking science technology, engineering and math. This is all encompassed in music."

Carter says budget shortfalls forced Cairo to cut the art programs from its schools years ago.    

"They just started band last year, but there hadn't been any and that's why we tried to fill in the need," she explains.

Pastor Jacob Swain and members of The View Church in Carbondale are helping Carter make her vision a reality

"The goal is to come and listen and to hear stories like what we've heard from Wilma about the history of Cairo, but also about the children in Cairo that are here, that are the hope," adds Swain.

The space is already being used by a student-led chess group. Fifteen-year-old Yasin Hollis and his siblings have been playing and teaching advanced chess here.

"The building is really how we jump-started our chess program because before what we were doing is setting up in basements," says Hollis.

The church crew will spend two days cleaning up the building for other activities; a helping hand Carter welcomes.

"They're not judging us," she adds. "They're building relationships. That's what we need most, people that come to build relationships."

The church group will wrap up the week with a school supply giveaway. It's set for Friday at 9:30 a.m. in the Cairo High School Cafeteria.

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