Children were encouraged to tell stories Saturday.
Participating in something similar to an open house, members and supporters dropped by the Un-Included Club’s new building at 1000 S. Knob St., and had the opportunity to tell stories about what the youth club has meant to them.
Doree Collins, executive director of the club, said they’ve had the new building and its seven-acre lot about a month. They’re calling it the Micro Green House, although they still use their downtown building at 306 E. Adams Ave. They plan to build another building on their new property, which will provide more space for all they’re already doing, she said.
“It’s in the heart of East Temple, so kids can walk there,” she said.
With the COVID-19 crisis, the club has been doing virtual classes lately, she said. It also is operating a small holistic home school, she said.
In addition to growing micro greens, the new building also is used to incubate baby chicks. The club has set up rainwater harvesting to water the micro greens. And it has obtained solar panels but they aren’t set up yet, she said.
The storytelling got a jump start from Steven Neaves, technical director for First Baptist Church of Temple, which is one of the club’s supporters. Neaves conducted video interviews with several club members, to better inform the church about its activities.
Elissia Evans has been a club member for seven years.
“This is basically my world,” she said. “I’ve been in it so long and it’s helped me so much.”
For a few years she was president of the junior leadership team, she said, which passes on what they learn to the younger children.
Kennadi Manning, club treasurer, said she’s been in the club a few years and is still learning how to manage money.
“It’s been like a lifesaving experience,” she said of being in the club. “They taught me how to have more self-control.”
Her idols are her mother, Tania Manning, and Doree Collins, she said.
“My mom, she’s hard working, determined, and she never gives up,” she said. “Doree, she’s my mentor.”
The atmosphere of the club is very positive, she said.
“It’s like we’re all family and we look after each other,” she said.
She doesn’t help with the garden, though.
“I don’t like dirt,” she said. “All I do is water.”
Dayla Collins, 14, the daughter of Travis and Doree Collins, said she’s been in the club about seven years.
“They teach you a lot of different stuff, such as gardening,” she said.
Meera Beharry, an adolescent medical doctor at Baylor Scott & White Memorial Hospital-Temple, was among the visiting adults. A longtime supporter of the club, she said she has taught health classes and other subjects for the club.
“I’m trying to be as involved as I can,” she said, “hanging out, supporting and buying greens. I’m elated. This is amazing. For them to have their own space, this is a true maturation.”
One of the things the club wants to do on the new property is build a stock pond where families can come and fish, Doree Collins said. Two acres will be for growing crops, she said.
“We will have some animals,” she said. “We have a family of deer. We’ll have goats.”
At the back of the property, the club wants to partner with Walker Honey Farm in beekeeping, she said. And the club wants a wildflower grove, in partnership with Bell County Master Gardeners and Texas Master Naturalists, she said.