At a glance
• What: The Remnant Youth and Community Center, 6805 Keith Bridge Road
• When: 6:30 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday
• Who: Middle and high school students
• Adult volunteers and monetary donations are also needed. Anyone wishing to help should contact Jackie Gaskins at (770) 205-2892. For more information, visit www.1remnant.com.
Four couples are hoping to breathe new life into a former store site in northern Forsyth County.
Jackie Gaskins said she, husband Tim and the three other couples — who all attend Freedom Tabernacle, a nondenominational church on Freedom Parkway — started talking a few months ago about creating a place for youth to spend time.
“We had this vision to have a safe place for kids to hang out on Friday and Saturday night, and to have a place during the week, for at least one night a week, where they can come and hang out and study or whatever,” Gaskins said.
In January, the couples — who include Brian and Becky Bryant, Jeff and Robin Hughes, and Eric and Ashley Bennett — were able to secure the site of the old Jot Em Down Store, where the road meets Hwy. 306, near the Hall County line.
Gaskins, the mother of four daughters, said the center is an offshoot of her work leading Virtuous Girls for God. Inspired by a children’s book she wrote, the ministry helps girls learn to use their talents to glorify God.
“I have four girls, so my heart is really for girls,” she said. “But then I was like, ‘What about the boys? You can’t leave them out either.’”
That’s where the new facility, called the Remnant Youth and Community Center, comes into play.
The center will open to youth for the first time tonight, while an official grand opening is set for 4 p.m. June 30.
“It’s all free. We’ll have some bands coming in, some games to play … and Cokes and coffee, that kind of stuff,” Gaskins said.
Eric Bennett, another of the center’s founders, said he is excited to see the Remnant get going.
“It’s been a long time in the process and just waiting, but I’m super excited about Friday,” he said.
Bennett, a lifelong Forsyth resident, said such a site is needed to give middle and high school students a place to “just hang out.”
He recalled being a teen in the late 1990s with little to do and nowhere to go to socialize with friends.
“I know what it was like when I was growing up,” he said. “We didn’t get into a whole lot of trouble, but we hung out in the parking lot of Kroger.
“Kids can’t do that anymore, so there’s no place for these kids to go really.”
Gaskins said she understands what it’s like to be a kid with no safe place to spend time.
“I was a … high school runaway,” she said. “So I’ve already been there.
“I was gone [from home] for about a month. I was a senior in high school and I really learned that it wasn’t quite what I thought it was going to be.”
Gaskins and Bennett said the community seems to have embraced the center.
A meeting in late January shared the Remnant’s mission with neighbors, Gaskins said.
“We also want to have some outreaches for the community, for people that are hurting, to be able to help them,” she said. “On Jan. 28 and even on some other Saturdays, we’re going to grill out and do free food and some beauticians have offered their services … to come in and do free haircuts.”
She said residents and businesses have helped transform the old store. Home Depot gave the center a sizable grant for needed renovations.
“I went in and asked if they would be willing to donate anything, because we had to add a bathroom and all this stuff, and they gave us one of their grants,” she said. “They came in on Memorial Day and pretty much renovated the place for us.
“Before that we had just been doing things slowly since February.”
Bennett added that a local roofing company, Tenth Roof, also made a large donation.
“Their motto is, every 10th roof they give it away free to a family that’s in need,” Bennett said. “The guy who’s one of the partners, said he drove by [the Remnant] every day and was just drawn to it.
“He was like, ‘This is a building, why I am drawn to a building? We’re not in that business, we do houses.’”
When the partner learned what leaders wanted to do with that building, he donated a completely new roof, Bennett said.
He hopes the center will become a popular place.
“We just want to give these kids a safe place to hang out, where on Friday nights they can do exactly what I did in the parking of lot of Kroger. And that’s just hang out and come and talk with your friends and just chill.”