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Bringing back the neighborhood

Vision Center provides refuge and more than mercy:

County Executive Joanie Mahoney was on hand at the Mercy Works' Vision Center, 1221 South Salina Street Aug. 21 to help celebrate the achievement of 16 city youth ages 13 to 16, who had successfully completed 40 hours of intensive computer instruction and marketing training. Besides the warm fuzzies and photo opportunities, the students got to take home the computers they trained on.

One of the graduates, H.W. Smith eighth grader Martikah Williams, 13, said that she had just gone through an incomparable learning experience, an introductory preparation for the telecommunications field. Noting that she wanted to be a lawyer, eventually running her own firm, she reflected that the skills she learned this summer would come in handy with all the business calls she would need to make.

For D.Q. Dancil, 16, a Cicero-North Syracuse sophomore, the best thing about the summer program was all the new things he was able to learn. As to their relevance for his future, he paused thoughtfully for a moment. "Whereever the future takes me," he said with a grin.

And while the celebration was for those youth, the refuge provided by the program and the contacts they made interning with local companies, Mercy Works Director of Development Clarence Jordan quietly observed that the agency had raised $372,000 to buy the building, located across from the old Sears complex, in which the program occupies only 3,500 of the structure's 40,000 square feet.

"Abundant Life {Church} started the whole thing," Jordan said. "We're trying to bring the neighborhood back. There have been so many promises for the South Side Corridor. We can't say when this will be completed, but we want to be a catalyst." Showing artist's renderings of the future mega community center, he showed a design for an obviously not your typical rec center.

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