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Johnstown woman turning vacant church into community center

One Johnstown woman is hoping to bring about change in her community. And she's doing it by turning an abandoned church in Hornerstown into a working church and community center. (WJAC)

JOHNSTOWN --One Johnstown woman is hoping to bring about change in her community. And she's doing it by turning an abandoned church in Hornerstown into a working church and community center.

A vacant church sits on Golde Street in Hornerstown, near the scenes of shootings and overdoses.

One group of residents wants young kids to see life in a different way.

"My heart’s desire is to give them another way to live, to give them an alternative to drugs," said Doris Fields.

Saturday morning at Beulah United Methodist Church, Fields talked about her hope to turn that vacant building into a community center.

"I think that if we join together and get this building up in operation, I think that this will be a central place for the kids to come and meet some of the needs in the community," Fields said.

She's calling it Divinity Cares Church and Community Center. She sees the drugs and violence and wants to be a part of the change.

"We're saying let's stop working apart, but let's join together,” Fields said, “Let's educate our people. Let's bring in outside help if we need to. Let's give them housing. Let's give them hope."

Part of that hope is working with other churches and organizations, including Pastor Rick Horner.

He's starting a branch in Johnstown of Living Free Ministry. He's calling "Living with Hope."

It's a scripture-based program to help families affected by drug addiction.

"We're trying to offer hope and help in a discreet way, but also we want it to be known that we're available, so we have counseling in different churches,” Horner said.

Fields says in the new community center there will be different organizations available to help, along with a day care, computer room and other activities available.

"I think the only way is just to overwhelm them with love, overwhelm them with education, overwhelm them with empowerment,” Fields said. “It's OK to tell. It's OK not to just sit around, let things happen."

Howard Bush is spearheading the fundraising efforts. He says they're looking to raise more than $40,000 through crowdfunding.

"(It’s) so she can get everything painted, stripped and the steps and make everything secure," Bush said.

He says he's been nearby these shootings and he wants young people to have different outlets.

"To get them in learning about Christ, the possibilities, there is possibilities, that they can have a future in whatever they want to do, tap into what they want to do and try to help them fulfill that,” Bush said.

They hope to have utilities in the church on by the end of April and they're looking to open by the end of August.

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