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Learning after the bell rings

Ironton children don’t have to go home to an empty house anymore, thanks to an Operation: Be Proud program that offers fun and homework help for local students.

Thursday, October 12, 2000

Ironton children don’t have to go home to an empty house anymore, thanks to an Operation: Be Proud program that offers fun and homework help for local students.

In its second year of hosting an after school program with the family guidance recreation program, Operation: Be Proud opens its doors each day to children from kindergarten through 12th grade.

OBP provides those children with recreation, time to do homework and tutoring – all tools for success, coordinator Susan Taylor said.

"This is to help kids get a head start in life," Mrs. Taylor said. "If you get them when they are young, they’ll listen to you."

There’s more to OBP’s mission these days, though.

The community group has grown to include activities, assistance and a sense of togetherness for everyone in Ironton, Mrs. Taylor said.

Operation: Be Proud began in 1991 with the leadership of Robert Pleasant Jr., she said.

"He had the idea to get people in Ironton together to help children succeed," she said. "He organized events for the children, and took them to historical sites."

Initially, there was no facility for the program during the first seven years.

That changed when the Ironton Metropolitan Housing Authority offered OBP a place in the River Hills Community Center.

Now, the community center is open to more than just Operation: Be Proud.

Mrs. Taylor said that anyone can access the facility for parties, showers, wedding receptions or gatherings. Members of the community may also have access to the computer labs.

"There is no age limit to the people who can access this building," Taylor said. "Parents, college students and the community may all come in. Nor is there a limit to the income level. Anyone can get help with homework, in applying for college or in accessing the computer lab."

The organization is designated in the Ironton-Huntington, W.Va., Empowerment Zone. OBP receives funds for two employees and to maintain the computer lab.

However, it’s the volunteers that keep Operation: Be Proud running.

"We couldn’t do this without the help of our foster grandparents and parents," Mrs. Taylor said.

Operation: Be Proud holds activities throughout the week.

On Monday and Wednesday, there are Karate classes at 6 p.m. The classes are open to all ages.

"We’d like to encourage adults to come out," Taylor said. "We’d like to start an adult class."

On Wednesday, Teresa McKenzie, outreach coordinator of the Education Opportunity Center, helps high school students and adults who would like to attend college by finding financial aid and walking people through the application process.

For more information about OBP, call the center at 534-9980.