Fulfilling a mission: Armory searches for volunteers to expand weekly hours

A local group of pickleball enthusiasts play regularly at the Armory, holding adult matches from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays. (Ashlyn Korienek/News Advocate)

A local group of pickleball enthusiasts play regularly at the Armory, holding adult matches from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays. (Ashlyn Korienek/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — Nearly six months after opening its doors, the Manistee Armory Youth Project has brought together hundreds in the community.

The Armory opened in June — at 555 First St. — with the hopes of providing a safe haven for Manistee County youth with programming geared toward physical, emotional, social and educational well being.

Robert Carpenter, executive director of the Armory Youth Project, said the project has many regular and special activities for both adults and youth. To broaden its open hours and range of available activities, Carpenter said the project is searching for volunteers to expand the project’s reach.

“Our hours are completely dependent on volunteers. We need people who would like to volunteer to help us expand our hours, and not just Monday through Thursday, but also Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” Carpenter said. “That’s our vision for the next year, to get kids in here more often. We have kids asking us right now to be open on the weekends.”

Currently, the Armory Youth Project has a wide-range of programs throughout the week, many of which are collaborations with other groups.

One of its various partnerships is a local group of pickleball enthusiasts, boasting friendly competition through the sport.

The group plays regularly, holding adult pickleball from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. Pickleball sessions are open to all who are interested at any age and skill level.

Many new programs are coming to the Armory this month.

A program that was popularly demanded by students is an art class, which will run from 4-6 p.m. on Tuesdays starting on Jan. 23. Art supplies will be provided. A yoga class will also be featured from 4-5 p.m. on Mondays, starting on Jan. 29.

“We also have programs that are coming up, like financial literary from 4:30-5:30 p.m. starting on Feb. 21 with the West Shore Bank,” Carpenter said. “We are partnering them to serve students. Finical literacy is a big one because many of our students might not understand finances.”

The Armory Youth Project hosts other weekly programs including the following:

  • Open hours from 3:30-6 p.m. from Monday through Thursday;
  • Tutoring and homework help from 4-6 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays;
  • Indoor soccer from 3:30-5:30 p.m. every second and fourth Tuesday of the month;
  • Basketball from 5-8 p.m. on Wednesdays;
  • Ukulele classes with instruments provided from 7-8 p.m. on Wednesdays; and
  • Volleyball from 4-5 p.m. every first and third Thursday of the month.

Open hours are available for students from sixth to 12th grade, with access to the gym, game tables, sporting equipment, cafe and space to do homework. Various after school programs are hosted, as well.

Other programs on the calendar this year, include resume writing nights with Northwest Michigan Works and a “Seed to Save” program with the Filer Credit Union.

As all of the programs for students are free, Carpenter said donations are important to keep the Armory up and running.

“We are one of the only youth centers that offers no fees for students,” he said. “We really want to do that to make sure there’s no barrier for students.”

Bringing a positive recreational space to Manistee, Carpenter said the Armory has served its purpose over the past six months, bringing a vast range of people through its doors for community events, programs and even for volunteership.

“I have been really excited about the amount of volunteers that have been giving back in many different ways,” he said. “We’ve had a great response from students with how many have been coming in and voicing their opinions, and community support from organizations who want to get involved.”



Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

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