I was born in South Mississippi in 1985. Over the past 32 years I’ve moved a few times but my strong southern roots have always led me back home. I began coaching cheerleading and gymnastics at the early age of 16, where I found my calling because of the love of a sport I shared with so many. When I was a teen I was always the local babysitter and since then my facility, whichever the address might have been, served as a safe and familiar place for THOUSANDS of kids over the past 15 years. About three years ago I was given the opportunity to purchase a 14,000 square foot building that was once the agricultural cooperative in our small town. At the time I was renting a room at a nearby dance studio and had recently become overwhelmed with the growth in number of srudents, all while the walls were closing in on the limited amount of space that I had to work with. So on a whim and a prayer, I signed myself up for failure almost instantly as they approved my purchase. I've never been one to risk much but I felt that this opportunity was a placed in reach by none other than Jesus Christ himself. So I sold almost everything I owned that had value and I borrowed from family. I drained our 3 month new nest egg and my life savings for a $30k deposit and an interest rate that would make you vomit. But From the very moment that I signed my name in agreement, I made a promise to myself to make it happen refusing to accept nothing less than what I had originally planned; a home away from home for any and every child that shared my passion! So I immediately took on every child that wanted to learn regardless of compensation, all while knowing that God would carry me as long as I continued on the path that he mapped out for me. I’ve always known that coaching was what I was meant to do and that working with kids in healthy and positive ways gave purpose to a rare talent discovered early in life. Here I am ... still hanging in there, against all other odds. Immediately into my first year of owning, my dream and my plan, at “The Community Co-op,” I went head first into community work. So many students of mine, over the years, have grown into college athletes, actresses, CEO’s, teachers, and nurses; and more than half of them began with no registration fee to give, no monthly tuition to pay for lessons, nothing at all to spare, but a school bus ride after school to the gym and a dream. I’ve always been able to see the best in the worst - which is exactly why I’m sitting where I am, not filing bankruptcy or looking for more work than I’ve already taken on, to pay to keep the doors open at a business that has not seen the positive side of a balance sheet since the day I purchased The Community Co-op. Those kid’s made it out of here alive and in love with life. Something motivated them to make better of what they had. Someone had an influence on their character, their drive and their goals! I like to think it’s me, and I will forever remain grateful to be included in their graduation speeches and their college applications, but humbly I must add, that I only offered them a place to LIVE! No, no, not lay their heads down at night, they all went home every night to their own beds, but for them to LIVE, to GROW, to meet challenges face on and defy gravity when everything in life says it’s impossible. It wasn’t me, it was the place. I was there, but they needed the opportunity... and I take no credit for anything more than hanging in there until now- asking the world, after fighting a losing battle for the past 3 years, two car repossessions, 2 high cost court cases that I may never come back from - Leins, the monthly reminders knocking on my door, the constant calls of bill collectors that I KNOW THAT I OWE and WILL MOST CERTAINTY PAY BACK all that I borrowed to fund a Place big enough to accommodate MORE ..... now I am limited to the availability the gym is open for ANY KID due to the other programs I’ve had to bring in or space I’ve had to rent out to, the extra jobs I’ve acquired and all while my husband is offshore most of the month, the little amount of family time has now depleted right along with the amount of time I have left before the bank forecloses. Whoa - depressing as ever to write so let’s come back from that Dark hole and focus on what you may can do to help the situation. I’m currently renting some of the space as I mentioned, to make up for low funding. We’ve had multiple storms this year that have given my roof a bad attitude that keeps us from one side of the gym when the weather is bad. We’ve patched it so many times that I am about to attempt another loan to fix it indefinitely. That’s little of the problem, because we really don’t mind the trash cans in the gym catching the puddles. The kids say all of the flaws “add character” to the place. Haha! I just agree and pray it doesn’t get worst this spring. I purchased all of our mats used and they’re all ready to be replaced. There are at least 300 kids per week that come through the gym on that equipment right now so you can imagine the feet and the stomps and landings it’s taken over the past three years when I was able to offer “free to the community” events that aren’t doable any more, or at least not very often. With that being said, here is my biggest reason for losing income that isn’t supplicated and causing more issues that include health .... Seven thousand square foot of the building isn’t heated and/or cooled. There isn’t a way to afford the monthly note, much less the equipment and installation, even if donated. Roll up doors are there and a few large fans. There is no heat in the winter, so chalk it up to LOVE for the sport, because I still go to work to open the doors for those babies in the snow! I just need some help. I’m prideful so this is very hard. I don’t want to lose what I’ve been given when it influences so many of the youth in our community like it does. See my pics - feel free to email me. Thank you so much for your time and tolerance if you’ve made it this far into my words. Ive chosen not burden my friends and family with hardships because Lord knows, we all have them and I do not think that mine is more significant than any of the others - I just know my heart is where it should be and to continue to help kids and my community I’m hoping that someone just like me at one time, who now, is a product of a loving neighbor’s good deed, take notice to my resilience to giving up and effort to keep this dream alive. I’ve added some photos that include some clippings about the co-op, from the local newspaper.
Love to all.