Sembach Youth Center still going strong

Story and photo by Dijon Rolle
U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz Public Affairs
 Tameka Grant enjoys a game of ping-pong with one of her youths Oct. 17 at the Sembach Youth Center on Sembach Kaserne.
Tameka Grant enjoys a game of ping-pong with one of her youths Oct. 17 at the Sembach Youth Center on Sembach Kaserne.

It’s been a little more than a year since the Sembach Youth Center first opened its doors, and in that time, Tameka Grant has watched, waited and prayed.

Grant, or “Ms. T” as her students call her, is the Child Youth and School Services assistant director site manager for the Sembach Youth Center.

“Kids are my passion, the more kids the merrier,” she said. “What I do, I don’t do for work or job. I do it because it’s something that I love to do. I want as many parents and kids as possible to know that there is a youth center here.”

Grant said the center’s numbers have increased from 20 to more than 150 registered students and counting since its grand opening last August. She works closely with Child and Youth Program assistants Kim Cooper and Kevin Christoffers to manage the influx and ensure the facility serves its purpose.

“We provide a safe place for the youth in the Sembach area. It’s a place where they can come to hang out, socialize and be themselves,” Grant said. “We offer clubs that help them develop life skills, leadership skills and deal with the social and emotional things they go through a daily basis.”

Seventh-grader Alyssa Vail visits the center three days a week.

“I mostly hang out with friends and see Ms. T because she’s fun to be around,” Vail said. “I get my homework done first if I have any, and then I can spend time with my friends. If this place wasn’t here, I’d be bored sitting at home. My parents let me come here because they trust me getting my work done and I get to have fun when I’m done.”

The center also features musical equipment, self-service snacks, video games, a library, computers, crafts, a ping-pong table and a homework area. Most of the equipment was provided through contributions from the Combined Federal Campaign-Overseas.

“CFC made it where we could be open,” Grant said. “It was the CFC funds that funded the program to get us running. Without that, there would have been no Sembach Youth Center. Those contributions made a huge difference to us, and we’re thankful.”

With the Combined Federal Campaign-Overseas in full swing through Nov. 15, Grant is optimistic that members of the KMC will continue to support the center and other local organizations. She also hopes to one day be able to relocate to a larger facility.

“We’re here and we would love to have as many of you as possible. Parents we invite you to come too,” Grant said. “Everything that we do here is free and we just want as many as possible that are in the Sembach community to be a part of it.”

The Sembach Youth Center is located inside of the Sembach Middle School and is open to students in sixth through eighth grades. Operating hours are from 2:30 to 6 p.m. Monday  through Friday on school days and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on non-school days (excluding federal holidays).

For more information, call 496-7057 or 06302-67-7057.