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BETHESDA -- Belmont County resident Mary Lee Powell generously donated $15,000 to replace the gymnasium floor at the New Horizon Campus of The Village Network in Bethesda, Ohio. To celebrate Powell and her donation, The Village Network hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house Tuesday, June 20 at the Bethesda campus.
At the ribbon cutting ceremony, Rich Graziano, president and CEO of The Village Network said, "As many of you know, The Village Network has been serving youth for over 70 years in various communities throughout Ohio. We've only been in this part of the state since 2014.
Graziano said The Village Network offers residential and day treatment programs. "It really gives us the opportunity to follow kids straight through and help them throughout their lifetime, which is something we're very proud of as an organization" he said. "One of the things that's over looked, is athletics and activities when your'e looking at behavioral healthcare ... People kind of overlook the benefits that youth get from taking part in a sport team and activities as far as the social interaction, how to deal with winning and losing, and how to overcome when things aren't going your way and achieve."
He continued, "So we're really thrilled we're able to redo this gym and give the kids a nice place to come and have some of these activities. This renovation will be the first of many that be have planned over the next 24 months, so eventually as the end of two years we would like to see the facility totally redone from the gym, all the way around to the front of the building."
"I'm fairly new to The Village Network and to see that the community is invested in what we're doing with the kids is so rewarding for me," said Mark Ingles, southeast regional director at The Village Network. "This donation says a lot about the reputation of The Village Network in the area and about Mary Lee providing for kids in this kind of situation."
Prior to unveiling as plaque dedicating the gym to the Powell family, Ingles said, "One of the things that I have found, as a healthcare provider and as a new newcomer to Belmont County, is that the people of Belmont County and the surrounding areas are incredibly kind, welcoming and generous people and that's why we are here today."
The gym at the Bethesda campus is a central piece to the residential care program and acts as both a gym and a multipurpose room.
"We use the gym for volleyball, basketball, talent shows, plays and so much more," Ingles said. "We try to make a therapeutic moment out of everything."
The gym, however, has lost its functionality over the years.
"The floor installed when the gym was built was state of the art at the time, however as it was cleaned, water got under the floor and deteriorated the matting on the back of the tiles," Ingles said. "The matting was meant to relieve knee and ankle pressure but now it's gone. It's not safe for our kids to play on."
Powell first heard about the need for a new floor in her hometown from her granddaughter, Michelle Cochran, a therapist at The Village Network's Wooster, Ohio location.
"She had mentioned that she wanted to donate to something, but she didn't know what," said Powell's daughter, Janice Cochran.
Ingles noted that the gym floor donation was not the first act of generosity from the Powell family. Mary and her late husband, Baden Powell invested their lives into sports. In 1954, Baden worked as a track coach for the Army while abroad in Germany, which later led the couple to become parent volunteers for the St. Clairsville track and football teams. After her husband's passing, Mary Lee chose to financially support the new St. Clairsville school track and football field and now the The Village Network's gymnasium as a way to give back to her community and continue the work her husband began.
"They (the Powells) understand that sports teach kids and teach people far more than just an athletic skill," Ingles said.
"Sports is what dad liked," Cochran said. "Mom wanted to do what she knew he would appreciate."
Since 1946, The Village Network has provided care for traumatized children and their families in Ohio and West Virginia. At its Bethesda, Ohio location, children can experience healing in the residential care program, which is the most intensive level of care offered to boys and girls. The program is specifically designed for children facing serious psychological and behavioral issues who require intensive treatment in a short-term residential setting. The Bethesda campus is able to provide residential care to as many as of 22 boys and six girls at one time.
Ingles thanked Conaway floors, the installer of the gym floor, Riesbeck's for providing boxed lunches for those attending the open house and said opportunities were available for donations for future renovations at the Bethesda location. For more information, contact the Bethesda New Horizon Youth Campus at (740) 782-0092.