By CLINT FOSTER
It won’t be long before the latch-key kids of Mineral Wells have a new place to go for safe, after-school activities.
Spearheaded by Reverend Clarence Holiman, the Paul Laurence Dunbar Community Group, Inc., is close to finishing a renovation of the old Dunbar school building – where Holiman began his teaching career in the 1960’s – to essentially give Mineral Wells its own version of the Boys and Girls Club.
“We just want a safe place for kids whose parents have to work until 5 or 6 o’clock,” Holiman said. “We’re just open to serving the community. That’s why the school district deeded us this facility. We wanted to take this facility and preserve the name of Paul Laurence Dunbar as a part of our heritage and what it means to students who went here prior to integration. It just has a lot of precious memories, especially to me.”
The new volunteer-driven, latch-key program will serve local kids between first and sixth grade from 4-6:30 p.m., providing them with activities, food and help with homework, if they need it. Holiman said another vital part of the program will be to teach crime prevention with the help of the Mineral Wells Police Department and district attorney’s office.
Thanks to generous donations from a local family foundation, the building has been outfitted with a new roof, new heating and air conditioning units, new lighting, and an overhaul of many old rooms. Holiman said he hopes to have new flooring in the gym and open the program to kids of all ages by the summertime.
“They have been very generous to us and I will forever be grateful to them,” Holiman said of the foundation that donated thousands of dollars toward the renovation. “Had it not been for them, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”