Fighting back: Neighbors opening community center in Buckeye Lake

Neighbors in Buckeye Lake are fighting back against poverty and blight. (WSYX/WTTE)

BUCKEYE LAKE, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) -- Neighbors in Buckeye Lake are fighting back against poverty and blight. They are working to open a new community center to help low-income families and seniors.

"What choice do you have when you see a need?" said Village Council President Kitty Olohan Zwissler.

The Harbor, a new community center in the heart of Buckeye Lake, will open Saturday to help anyone in Licking, Fairfield, or Perry County. There's a gym area, office space, and more.

"We are going to be able to serve people over 60 in Licking County free lunch every day," said Olohan Zwissler.

She said people from Fairfield and Perry County can also get lunch for a stipend.

She said when they got the building, it was a mess.

"Actually, I had second thoughts about whether it was even possible," she said.

But when ABC 6/FOX2 8 caught up with this team of neighbors, the focus was on final touches.

"It has been a year in the making and hundreds of hours being put in to cleaning up the building and painting the building," said Trudy Craig, a volunteer and community leader.

It is part of a larger plan to improve their community, one they said is typically low-income.

Volunteers said many in the community don't have good access to transportation, food, or even a gym.

"We really have the haves and the have-nots," said Zwissler. "I think when you bring people together there's a psychological impact."

They aren't stopping. Volunteers are also tackling blight in the village. They plan to demolish the dilapidated home next door.

"We have promises of some picnic tables so people can go and buy their lunch or dinner and come and sit there and enjoy the traffic going by," she said.

The team said they have a ten-year lease on the space, thanks to the Evans Foundation.

The Harbor officially opens Saturday, with a special ceremony from noon to 4 p.m. at Buckeye Lake location on Walnut Road.

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