Organizers with the Forever Young Learning Center, already a certified daycare facility, want it to be much more than that.

Director Cyminthia Rogers says the plan is to establish an alternate Head Start Pre-K program in Orange. The Forever Young staff offers an after-school program for early, elementary and middle school kids, and in the future hopes to host a GED program and Texas Workforce Center training classes for parents.

Schools such as Anderson Elementary provide books for the learning center, and Rogers says West Orange-Cove Superintendent O. Taylor Collins has been very supportive. The WO-C district once ran the facility (which also houses Greater St. Paul Christian Fellowship Church ) when it was known as Jones School.

Interactive videos and computer programs are also part of the learning center curriculum.

A benefit to help the center with heating and air conditioning repairs will be from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday at the Fraternal Order of Eagles Lodge, 803 N. 28th St. Features include chicken gumbo with rice, crackers and potato salad for $6, an auction, crafts and bake sale, live music and karaoke and a raffle for a new-in-the-box hunting rifle (Marlin .270, scope, wood stock). Rifle tickets and 50/50 split the pot tickets are $1 or seven for $5. Drawings take place at 4 p.m. Ticket holders need not be present to win. 

On a recent tour of the church and learning center with David Peck, church pastor Bishop Raymond Young mentioned some problems with the AC/heating.

“We had window units for climate control,” Young says. “We had a transformer and it could not handle the load of what it was pulling from those units. We burned up one transformer so we bought a new one; then we discovered we needed another one … I shared with [Peck] some of the challenges we’ve had being in a low-income/moderate-income environment; where sometimes finances are not what you expect them to be. Daycare facilities don’t make a whole lot of money.”

Peck called contractor Curtis Lee at Lee Construction to ask about possible help.

“Bayou Electric and Tommy Vice do a lot of work for me,” Lee says. “And I knew that under the circumstances he could do it just for cost.”

Young adds, “After the estimates, the numbers we were looking at were very reachable.” It was also Lee who got the Eagles involved with organizing the benefit.

“The Eagles are all about people helping people,” Lee says. “It was a good way to reach out … a win-win situation for everyone.”

Any extra funds raised will go to help other needs of the learning center, or the church. St. Paul has a congregation of more than 250 that began meeting in the old Jones building about four years ago.

For more information on Saturday’s fundraiser, call (409) 499-9364, 718-5712 or 792-9094.