K-Mart transformed through luck, love

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 11, 2008


Editor and Publisher

LAPLACE – The seemingly perfect marriage between the huge K-Mart Building on Airline Highway and the YMCA coming to LaPlace to head up a youth recreation center there was orchestrated when United Way of St. John Director Dean Torres put the two together late last year.

Torres said that he knew that the YMCA had been considering ways to start here in St. John Parish, and then learned of the building recently purchased by New Wine, all with the hope of making it a youth recreation center.

That began the talks involving New Wine Pastor Neil Bernard, YMCA of Greater New Orleans President and CEO Darrell Johnson, and YMCA Senior Program Director Lou Johnson.

“We got together and talked about the value of such a local program, and our mission to put it all together,” Bernard said. “But clearly this is helping it happen much faster than it might have.”

Bernard said that the YMCA is now accepting the responsibility to raise funds to turn the 64,000 square foot building into a top-rate youth recreation center. Long term hopes are to have an aerobic workout area, three basketball courts and even a swimming pool.

However it will all take plenty of money, projected at over $6 million, according to Bernard.

New Wine is leasing the building to the “Y” for $1 a year, and in return, any tithing member of New Wine will get a free membership to the YMCA center.

Anthony Smith has been named Youth Services Coordinator at the LaPlace branch.