SMITHFIELD - "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord," is printed and framed at the entrance of the new patio that has been added to the former farm house of the Bright family and passed on to their son, Kara.
"He had a dream that his family home be turned into a center where youth come together to learn, think, question, develop moral values and have the courage to take a stand based upon Christian values," Daryle Griffin, president and CEO, said.
It was established in 1997, and the home, many existing buildings and the demolition of a barn for a basketball court are in the planning or completion stages now.
SHARING MEMORIES — Three of the six Brightway Center board of directors share memories and look over mementoes of Kara Bright, who grew up and spent most of his adult life in the home that is now a center to help youth develop Christian morals. From left, George Spack, Daryle Griffin, president and CEO; and Clifton Spinner, Other members are Jon Swires, Steve Luke and Dr. Mike Madison. An open house was held Sunday. -- Esther McCoy
An open house was held to show the community the work that has been accomplished and to learn if any of those in attendance would be interested in becoming volunteers.
Cathy Takach, project manager, showed off the new stone patio where a barbecue pit and a donor wall will be added to complete the project. She explained that the wall will be built in memory of the children of local contractor, Don Grim of Allied Construction, who did the work for Brightway.
Picnic tables are situated on the patio and its entrance will have a walk leading to another donor wall, where donations are being accepted from the public for its construction.
"The area where a barn once stood has been removed, cleaned off and a donor provided basketball hoops for a basketball court," Takach said.
"The equipment barn is being created into an activity center that will house 125 people, have food facilities and a patio and gazebo on the back. We have a matching grant for $30,000 for the project," she said.
George Spack told how he came to meet Bright through Sonny Smith of Milligan College in Tennessee. This is where Bright also attended and was his mentor of sorts. "I had Smith as my basketball coach at William and Mary College for a year and in later years I met up with him in Morgantown, when we were both coaching basketball. He asked me over to meet his friend, Kara Bright," he said.
"Twelve years later, Kara called to tell of the Brightway project, unnamed at that time, and asked me to come to a planning meeting. It was a perfect fit. I think it was a divine conicidence that we met, and I am now serving on his board," Spacks said.
"Daryle Griffin and I were on opposite sides of Kara's sick bed when he earnestly told us that he was counting on us to get his lifelong dream started. 'I mean it, I am really counting on you two,' he said. It was then that we knew that we had no choice.
"Now everyone is excited about the Brightway Center. We want to ask three new members to expand the board and would like them to have local ties," Spacks said.
In the "Kara Room," are trophies, pictures of past Fellowship of Christian Athletes trips, including one to the Blue Ridge Mountain event in 1966. A program book from the 1978 Upper Ohio Valley Fellowship of Christian Athletes shows Bright as the president and coordinator; Richard Wilinski, vice president; Richard Craven, secretary; and William McHugh, treasurer. Rudy Mumley and Calvin Pokas are listed as avid supporters.
Needed now are volunteers to help carry on the work that the Brightway Center is trying to provide. Of the visitors attending the open house, there were some interested in working with the center and to help youth find their way. Liz Matthews, Virginia Young, Sherry Matthews and Jodi Rouse assisted with the refreshments.
A health fair is scheduled for July 14 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for health care screenings, snacks, free information, physical therapy consultations and first aid training. Call Takach at (740) 733-7480 for more information.
Donations of socks, new shoes or boots will be taken at the "Socks and Shoes for Souls" benefit held at Brightway. They can be dropped off at the center. These are for school children in need of footwear.