New bleachers mean big opportunities for YOC

Published: Dec. 14, 2021 at 6:05 PM CST
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - The Wichita Falls Youth Opportunities Center got a big gift on Tuesday in the form of new seating. The center received twelve new sets of bleachers after many moving parts and community members came together to make a difference.

The unexpected windfall came after Patterson Auto Group donated the contents of a warehouse to Wichita Falls Sober Living. Volunteers with the organization found the bleachers while cleaning out the building, but could see no practical purpose for them in their own program. However, they had worked with the Youth Opportunities Center in the past, and YOC Executive Director Madeline Chappell jumped at the chance to take the seats.

“The bleachers make a big difference,” YOC Executive Director Madeline Chappell said. “People don’t understand how many people we’ll be able to fit out here, and the different events this opens us up to.”

Wichita Falls Mayor Stephen Santellana provided the vehicle that drove the bleachers from the warehouse to the YOC building, as well as a Sky Tractor to move the seats from the trailer to their new homes. Some of the bleachers will move into the gym once the floors have been renovated (the next project on YOC’s list), while others will remain in the yard after being cleaned and weatherproofed.

Chappell said that the bleachers would be used in various community events, like movie nights and watching flag football games.

“Seating was always a major issue every time we had an event,” she explained. “We’d be bringing chairs out here and they’d be sinking into the ground. Now we have these bleachers and we’ll be able to put them to use, and we appreciate everyone who made it possible.”

The bleachers will be used as early as Dec. 22, when the YOC hosts a Christmas event for kids. Children can get tickets by playing carnival games, and will then be able to use those tickets to buy gifts for their family members.

“Every kid is going to walk out of here with a bag full of presents,” grinned Chappell. “We’re going to wrap them and everything.”

Chappell predicted that the bleachers will get the most use after the new year, when the center starts more regular programming. Most of all, she was thankful that this unexpected opportunity came through to help realize her vision for the YOC.

“It’s the little things that mean so much. Like something that was sitting in a storage unit somewhere not being used at all, now is going to turn around and benefit so many people that are going to come through here. I’m so excited about that,” she said.

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