Acts of Kindness: Northside community center helps all ages

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - From a myriad of sports and games and trips to assistance for senior citizens. Richmond parents say their Northside community center is a valuable resource for young and old.

At Hotchkiss Community Center, the Great Escape Summer Camp is in full swing.

While older kids work on their tennis serves, younger campers are in craft and game mode, awaiting their turn on the courts.

Doree Byrd helped build her Habitat for Homes residence right across the street from Hotchkiss.

"My son loves it," she said. "My son told me I can put his bed in the parking lot over there--he'll be happy."

Byrd's active son, who's 8, has learn to soar with the Hotchkiss Eagles many sports teams

"They've done soccer, baseball, football, swim team," she said."

Byrd appreciates the many life lessons shared with kids.

"Number 1 is respect. They're teaching them to respect themselves, their parents, their teachers, their coaches, the people in the community," she said.

The Eagles have a legacy winning, but parents appreciate the emphasis on scholarship. Coaches have report card checks.

"They make pop up visits to the school, they make sure the kids behavior is on track, their grades is on track," Byrd said.

If they don't have the grades they don't play.

"They will even make them come to a game, but won't participate," Michelle said.

Both mothers say they have high praise for the center's staff and coaches.

"Some of them, of the coaches even pick up the kids. If they can't make it, or their mom can't make it, they will go make their rounds, pick up the kids," Michelle said.

"A lot of these young guys, they don't have a father growing up in their home. The coaches over there, they are their fathers.  They respect them as father," Hotchkiss said.

NBC12 helped the mothers pay it forward. In the teen center, we surprised veteran staffer Sherita Johnson and dozens of curious campers.

"Awww, for you guys.  This is for you guys, for your summer camp. Because what do we have coming up the last day?  We're going to Haadad Lake. Paying for you guys, that way your parents don't have to pay for you," she said, to cheers from the campers.

"I love this place because it's just fun," said Jonathan, one of the campers.

"I love this place because staff persons are nice to us," said another camper, Deja.

"When you come to Hotchkiss, we always say you're not a guest, you're not a customer, you're family," said Johnson.

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