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New Communities of Trust center to open tomorrow in Hybla Valley, providing a ‘safe place’ for kids

A new kid-focused community center is opening tomorrow (Thursday) inside a long-vacant space at a Hybla Valley apartment complex.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. for the Communities of Trust Center, a renovated two-story community gathering place within the Creekside Village Apartment complex at 7932 Janna Lee Avenue.

The project comes from the local nonprofit organization Communities of Trust (COT), which works to build trust between public safety agencies and the community, and HomeAid, an organization that builds housing and facilities for nonprofits.

“Within this two-story building, COT will focus on preventive solutions for at-risk youth by providing a safe haven, teaching job skills for employment, and building ties within the community,” the event flyer says.

The new community center in the Franconia District will be a “safe place” for kids to gather, do schoolwork, and participate in structured programs, Communities of Trust Chair Shirley Ginwright told FFXnow.

“This has been a community where there has been a large amount of negative interaction with law enforcement,” she said. “This facility will provide a place for them to go, after they get out of school and while their parents are working.”

The 1,582-square-foot space had been vacant for a decade and was very much in need of renovations, per a press release.

Walls and the kitchen were removed to create a large, open-space area, while vinyl plank flooring was installed throughout. A kitchenette, two water fountains, new lighting, and windows were added. All three bathrooms were renovated as well.

The renovation ended up costing about $125,000, but all the materials, labor, and project management were donated.

Ginwright said creating a space where kids can learn was important, because the pandemic hit this community particularly hard, while setting many students back in terms of reading, writing, and math skills. There will be workshops and programs aimed at helping kids catch up on those skills.

There will also be a number of specialized programs aimed at different interests, including filmmaking, podcast production, and music recording. STEAM education will be a focus too, Ginwright said.

“We will also be engaging with our law enforcement in implementing many of these programs to help build positive relationships and trust,” she said.

The Communities of Trust Committee was first established in late 2014 in response to the killing of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. The committee’s intention was to bring together public safety agencies and community representatives to prevent what happened in Ferguson from happening in Fairfax County.

From there, a nonprofit organization was established in 2016. The community center in Hybla Valley is the first of its kind to be built by COT.

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