Kidz Express gets a makeover

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South Austin residents and ComEd volunteers teamed up one recent Saturday to give the Kidz Express building at 342 S. Laramie Ave. a makeover.

The nonprofit that offers free after-school, summer and other community programs to at-risk children, youth and families in Austin was cleaned up and received a fresh coat of paint Nov. 17. About 20 employee volunteers from ComEd participated.

“This is like a safe haven for children,” Cornell Barnett, 50, ComEd employee volunteer said about the facility.

Barnett said he initiated the project because he sees the center’s value to the community. After hearing how the programs have helped kids on the West Side, other volunteers jumped in suggesting new ceiling tiles, lighting and donated furniture.

Established in 2005, Kidz Express offers after-school programming, GED classes, health and nutrition, athletic fitness, youth leadership development, tutoring, mentoring, jobs training and more.

The kids in the program have the opportunity to turn around and pay-it-forward to the next generation.

Lamar King, 22, started participating in the programs when he was in grammar school. He’s now a part of the jobs training program and mentors other students.

Marco Dodd, 20, a Kidz Express senior mentor who has been coming to the center for more than 10 years  said he’s benefited from the programs and wants to help other kids succeed.

“I want to say that I feel like we’re giving them that added love, or that extra help, or that extra push. Something just to help them have it in their mind that they can make it out of here,” he said.

Read an earlier story, “Program shapes one kid at a time” to learn more about Kidz Express.

AustinTalks reporter Annabel Garcia contributed

Photos by ComEd








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