South Springfield teen center benefits from added community support

Teens and preteens on Springfield’s south side have several reasons to look forward to Tuesday, Thursday and Friday late afternoons. Instead of roaming the streets, they have Hope.

While it has been part of area for 24 years, The Rock of Hope teen center, located at 705 Linden Ave., is being discovered by the community at large, resulting in new donations and volunteer involvement to support the 45 students who attend.

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Hot meals on Fridays, donations of various items and visits from guests such as Ohio State Highway Patrol members are among the perks of the increased awareness, which teen center director Matt Perrine finds a blessing.

“The kids keep us going, everything we do is for the kids,” Perrine said. “Some of these kids don’t get hot meals, so we really appreciate the help.”

The center, which is part of H.O.P.E. (Honor, Outreach, Prayer, Empathy) Ministries, founded by Jackie Mounts, has three lounges in which the kids can enjoy video games, snacks, a fitness gym, arcade room and other amenities, helpful as some schools don’t have recess anymore.

Several things have boosted Rock of Hope’s profile.

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During the recent polar vortex weather, Mark Houseman and friends aided the community by setting up warming centers to help people in need. He wasn’t finished volunteering when the weather warmed.

He was one of many who’d never heard of the teen center and made that his next action, posting about it on Facebook.

“We’re giving a pathway to give back to the community,” Houseman said.

Micah Myers recently got involved to help as the hot meal coordinator, some meals coming out of his own pocket. He’ll gladly provide crock pots if people are willing to donate food, such as Friday’s meal of chicken and noodles.

Clad in their Ohio State Highway Patrol uniforms, Capt. Danny Springs, Lt. Brian Aller and Trooper Jason Hodge took a few hits and issued a few playing dodgeball during Friday’s activities and swapped trash talk with the kids.

One of the patrolmen got put out by one of the smallest kids, Kahmae Clay. She thought it was funny and not funny, but his laughter gave her more confidence, and that was the point according to Hodge, showing kids because they wear uniforms they aren’t an enemy but can get along.

They heard about the center through Houseman’s posts and wanted to help, including donating a ping pong table and participating. It won’t be a one-and-done.

“We didn’t realize there were that many kids. It’s a great thing they’re doing here,” said Hodge.

Perrine looks forward to other community leaders being involved.

While the fun and snacks are part of the teen center experience, several of the kids appreciate the other benefits.

Sophomore Ar’eiynne Channels likes knowing somebody is there to talk to if he needs to and has grown close to the volunteers. He admits it’s helped him stay out of trouble.

Kenwood Elementary student Raiyne Jones appreciates being watched out for, and Kahra Clay can get help with schoolwork.

With things like free basketball camps, trips to Dayton Dragons games and fresh community involvement, kids have plenty to look forward to.

“We’re here to be advocates and the kids know it’s a safe place, an escape,” said volunteer Sarah Hart.

For more information, to volunteer or donate to the teen center, go to

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