Levias leads effort to raise funds for skating rink

Published 5:42 am Saturday, April 22, 2017

Tiye Yayu Square-LeVias wants to keep the dream of her father, Rev. Charles LeVias, alive by building a skating rink for the young people and even the older folks of Bogalusa.

“He wanted to give something back to the community,” Square-LeVias said. “He loved Bogalusa! We lost him in 2013, but I promised him that I would complete the task … I promised I would make him proud!”

Now that task depends on the people of the community, and, hopefully, beyond. Rev. LeVias’ daughter has set up a Gofundme campaign in hopes of raising $250,000 to fund building the rink at the old ice plant on South Columbia Street. Square-LeVias said the plant’s owners Bryan and Cherie Genco offered 18 months of free rent to help get the project “off the ground.”

She said the money would be used to turn the building into a skating rink, to purchase skates, arcade equipment, tables for birthday parties, and to hire employees.

Square-LeVias raised $790 online in the first three weeks of the Gofundme campaign. But she said that she’s collected money from friends and family offline, and that a “couple of locals have said they would like to donate as well, but don’t want to pay online.”

She said she is considering including laser tag at the same location, and that she dropped off a deposit on the building this past Monday.

Rev. LeVias “believed in, and loved everybody,” his daughter said. “We shared the opinion that, if you invest in the kids, things will change and get better. They are the ones who will be running this town one day.”

Bogalusa currently has nothing for young people to do, Square-LeVias said.

“We do not have anything, outside of the YMCA and parks, for the kids to do,” she said, in her plea to potential funders. “It’s either the Y or Juvenile Hall. No bowling alley, no skating ink, no arcade, no movies, nothing! Unable to find a Prevention Grant, I’m turning to the people to help my Community.

“Bogalusa has a population of 12K people. The city cannot afford to add to the budget for Prevention. They have provided beautiful parks, but the kids need at least one activity here.”
“The goal is $250,000 to assure success, but we can get started with about $100,000,” Square-LeVias said. “I believe in prevention. Studies show, when the kids have lots of activities to do, they stay out of trouble.

“It will also assist in building the infrastructure in Bogalusa. When our youth grow up and go to college, we want them to return. If they get married and have kids, they are going to consider, what is there to do for their kids. If they have to drive out of town for activities for the kids, they may choose to just remain out of the city.”

She added that a skating rink would create jobs, bring in tax revenues for the city, and enable real estate agents to point to it as a local amenity.

“It will be a safe community space for all residents,” Square-LeVias said. “We will have zero tolerance for violence of any kind, and security will be provided.”

She said she is feeling “very hopeful.”

“I promised my father I would follow through with his request,” Square-LeVias said. “I’m getting very close to keeping that promise. And with the help of several good people, I’m almost there. The goal is to have the skating rink open by the summer, before school ends.

“We can really use help from the community to make this happen. No amount is too small. Even a donation of $10, $25, or $100, will help.”

She said everybody who donates to the campaign, no matter what the amount, will be invited to a “soft opening” — a private party with free skating.

“We will have perks for all levels,” Square-LeVias said. “We also have opportunities for investors. And if you cannot afford to donate, we will have volunteer openings to help get the skating rink open.

“If you can help, God bless you, and thank you. If you cannot, please share this with your friends.”

She can be contacted at sirtiye@gmail.com for additional information.

Gofundme link: https://www.gofundme.com/opening-a-skating-rink-for-the-kids