Volunteer Power Overcomes Vandalism Damage at New Troy Community Center | News

NEW TROY – A group of volunteers really cleaned up the community center in New Troy following an act of vandalism on March 20.

On Saturday morning, March 26, Terry Hanover of the Friends of New Troy was part of a group cleaning up residue from a fire extinguisher that had been sprayed inside the community center gymnasium and kitchen.

“We had such an outpouring of volunteers to help clean it up, it was remarkable and really gave us a boost a week ago,” he said, adding that donations to help cover effort costs were also received.

“We even have a donation for a new security camera system,” Hanover said.

In a March 23 letter about the incident released by Friends of New Troy vice president Victoria Petroff and the nonprofit’s board of directors, they reported that the building “was illegally entered by members of the community we serve and extensively vandalized. The epicenter was the kitchen. The space we had invested so much of ourselves in. The entire gymnasium was massively impacted… Our entrance, our hallway, our meeting and our community halls required volunteer hours to be cleaned.

In addition to the vandalism, the letter said donation boxes from a March 19 event (Gather, Flapjacks & Flicks, part of the 2022 Coastline Children’s Film Festival) had been broken into. “The money has been stolen. The funds we just raised for our monthly gatherings and community offerings are gone.

Hanover said money was also stolen from inside the community center about a week before the March 20 incident.

Initially, the cost estimate for cleaning and restoration services for the gymnasium, kitchen and bathrooms inside the community center was $4,500. But Hanover said using volunteers instead of an outside company saves money.

He said the New Troy Community Center is expected to be open for normal operations (including a Tuesday morning story hour) from Monday, March 28.

Hanover said fire extinguisher residue is more of an irritant than a hazardous material (members of the Weesaw Township Fire Department were consulted following the March 20 incident). Those cleaning the affected areas wore facial marks and ended up doing four rounds of full cleanings.

“At the end of the day, I think there will be a lot more people who will know about us,” he said, noting that after a depressing few days, the cleanup effort had everyone in a good mood. .

One of dozens of volunteers who helped with the cleanup effort at the New Troy community center was Steve Saunders, who said he lived part-time nearby but had never been to the inside the building until he decides to help.

“It’s great to meet everyone, a great way to spend a Saturday morning,” he said.

The March 23 Friends of New Troy release also included the following:

The Friends of New Troy Community Center is run entirely by volunteers. There is no single paid salary. We receive no government funding. Organization is the quintessence of the base. It is a non-profit organization driven by heart and passion where a group works together as one entity to run a community center. Our goal is to “Build Community One Neighbor at a Time”. We strive to provide a safe space for our neighbors to gather and enjoy programming, events, WiFi, open gyms, affordable rentals, mobile pantries, coat drives, lending library , and more. All are run by people who give their time and energy to make everyone feel welcome and create a fun space to gather and be.

Last weekend, the Friends of New Troy Community Center hosted the Coastline Children’s Film Festival and Pancake Breakfast. An event that took months of planning and countless hours invested by volunteers from two non-profit organizations to organize a free and inclusive event at the community center.

Before the pancake breakfast, we took stock of our kitchen and realized it needed some help. It had not been used for nearly two years and showed signs of neglect. Volunteers scrubbed everything from ceiling to floor, painted, removed old ceiling tiles and lighting, installed new ceiling tiles and lighting, organized the pantry, and breathed new life into the space. Our kitchen has gone from an eyesore to a source of pride. We were so happy to see how our efforts transformed the room and were excited to share it with the community.

On Saturday we organized a great event. There were countless pancakes served to all ages. The children came for a few seconds and went home with the leftovers. Live music filled the gym. The movies brought out smiling, bright faces who, after the screenings, stopped in the lobby to chat about their favorite movie. Occasionally, a little one would drop a dollar in one of the Coastline Children’s Film Festival donation boxes and offer a “Thank you!” to our host.

That’s why we do what we do. We do it for the smiles. For a thank you. We do it for the laughter and the sense of accomplishment we get from working together to serve our community. The volunteers of Friends of New Troy are without a doubt the most generous, welcoming, talented and dedicated people that we could ever have the pleasure of knowing.

Please visit www.friendsofnewtroy.org for more information, to donate or show your support for Friends of New Troy. With the support of our community, we’ll be back in full force before you know it!

Friends also reported that the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department investigated the incident and identified those responsible.

“We are awaiting their official report before deciding how to proceed.”

Jill E. Washington