Enquirer Herald

Clover center in the works

Adam O'Daniel

news@enquirerherald.com

CLOVER -- A Charlotte minister wants to establish a community center in Clover.

Bishop Albert North has applied for a federal grant to build a $1 million faith-based community center that would feature children's programs, senior activities and community classes.

"I want to go to a place that needs help," said North, pastor of Christ Temple International, a church meeting in Charlotte. "Charlotte already has so much and I see a need especially to help the children in Clover."

North, 59, will learn early next year if he will receive the grant, administered by the Bush Administration's faith-based community programs initiative. He hopes to build a facility with classrooms, a gymnasium and other activity space.

The center will be used for after-school programs for children, recreational sports, senior citizen groups and classes to help prevent substance abuse. A computer lab is also in the plans. The center will employ three full-time staff members and dozens of volunteers.

"It's going to be a top-notch center," North said.

If he doesn't receive a grant, North will look for private funding, he said.

He recently met with Clover town officials to ask for their support. He needs town leaders to help him begin looking for property that will fit the center's needs and best serve the community. A specific site has not been identified.

"It looks like a neat idea," said Mayor Donnie Grice. "We want to help any way we can."

Grice said he hopes to connect North with other religious leaders in Clover, such as Pastor Sam Thompson at God's Lighthouse, for support and advice.

North will be going door-to-door around Clover over the next month to talk with different neighborhoods about his plans.

"It's so important for us to work together," he said. "This will be a multi-purpose, multi-cultural center everyone can benefit from."

Clover caught North's attention last year when a churchgoer recommended the town as a place for his community center. He began visiting the town and describes it as a place with too many children without guidance after school.

"There's too many kids just walking the street," he said. "And that's how they end up in trouble with drugs and gangs."

He knows all about it. North has led five different churches spanning three decades. But he said his own troubles as a young man inspired him to reach out to others.

"I was the kid on the street," he said. "I got into drugs, gang activity. And now if I can help just one or two children, it's all worth it."

Clover residents wishing to learn more about the project or volunteer can contact North at BishopANorth@yahoo.com.

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