Over the weekend, the Life Skills Multi-Purpose Hub marked its first year of service to the community. Reporter Vejea Alvarez attended the event and filed the following report.
Empowering Communities to Empower Themselves that has been the motto the men at the Life Skills Multipurpose Hub have been living by for the past year. On Saturday the HUB celebrated its first anniversary with an outreach program to help the youth in their community. The resource center was launched back in 2020 through a partnership with the Love Foundation, the Kolbe Foundation and the US Embassy through the ECTET initiative. The Hub’s cofounder and manager Jerdean Jergenson says the milestone is a solid reminder of how the community is doing its part to bring about meaningful change.
Jerdean Jergenson, HUB Leader: “First of all we have to thank the most father, thank the most high for this day because it’s a long way from last year up to now but most important we’re trying to give back to the community due to the time of pandemic you know things are a little slow right now so we took this opportunity for our one year anniversary to have a little eating and just give back and lend out some support to the community because this is what the program is all about; empowering the community to empower themselves.”
The Hub was the first of three to be launched on the southside of Belize City and aimed to improve communities where gang violence is rampant and opportunities are few. Kolbe Foundation representative and partner of the Hub Francis Woods spoke about how the project has helped to uplift the residents of this marginalized community.
Francis Woods, HUB Partner: “This hub is significant because the guys here, well all the guys, they’re really willing. They’re getting a chance to act and things they want to do for a long time so we have helped them, guided them and gotten the tools that they needed to do what they wanted. This group has done all kinds of stuff. Car washing seems to be a popular one but they are also very gifted with planting and what’s neat about the planting is that they’re teaching the kids in the neighborhood that. They have yard sales, they make yard tiles, they sold a couple of vehicles, they do maintenance for air conditioning for companies, they do painting, pressure washing, landscaping they do all kinds of different stuff and I’m really proud of them because even though we’re going through a pandemic with the COVID and business is basically low they have still survived, it’s been rough but they have survived.”
And while the men have found it hard to stay afloat during the pandemic according to Jergenson the goal has been to teach the youth in the area the importance of working hard.
Jerdean Jergenson, HUB Leader: “I don’t open or close the place. For example we have the guys that fall under the youth that open and close the establishment they do the maintenance majority of the time when we are out doing other jobs so like I would say it’s a learning process at the same time we are continuing to work with the adults that need to fall in line but the support from the community first of all it is overwhelming then big respect to Mr.Rene Villanueva for the ads – the life skills multipurpose ads that roll because then majority of the time we get support due to the ads. People call us for plumbing, people call us for repairing so I must say once again big respect to Mr.Rene Sr. for the support that has our ads running through because without that through this pandemic like that is the main means of how things happen within Life skills multipurpose.”
And that exposure led a couple from the south to donate a greenhouse so that the local youth can get involved in urban gardening.
Francis Woods, HUB Partner: “A good friend from the south, a couple, they liked the project and they liked the urban gardening part of it so they donated a greenhouse so next week we start constructing a green house for this particular area. We’ve done other green houses in other areas they’re very successful.”
The Life skills Multipurpose Hub offers a wide array of services and is located on Caesar Ridge Road in Belize City.