SHERMAN- After three years of planning, Sherman will be a central hub to help the rural residents of Western Chautauqua County.
For three years Michelle Swabik worked behind the scenes, developing programs and seeking non-profit licensing to help fulfill her dream - a dream which started after seeing her eldest son and daughter and their friends in need of healthy and positive activities.
"I would say to myself, 'If only there was a place for these kids to go after school,'" said Swabik, creator of the Rural Center. "... Then the vision started to grow as I began to see a bigger need as I worked as an advocate for Chautauqua County Mental Health. I saw that the entire rural area on the west side of the county was in need of services for kids and for the whole family."
Michelle Swabik, Rural Center creator, talks about her vision for the community.
P-J photo by
With the Rural Center, Swabik hopes to provide a safe place off the streets, street drug education and life skills for both youth and adults. Homeschooled students and the Amish community would be able to utilize the center and a learning center would feature GED tutoring and computer time.
"I would love to see a community center open year round so that young kids have these opportunities not just the seven weeks (the summer recreational program runs)," said Emily Norton, a student going into the 11th grade who expressed a desire to do recreational activities done in summer programs year round.
The Rural Center was well received not only by the local village government and school, but representatives from Congressman Tom Reed's office, County Executive Vince Horrigan's office and Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office came down to express their support of the project.
In addition to partnering with Chautauqua Opportunities, the Rural Center will be moving into the old Ford garage on Main Street in Sherman.
To learn more about the Rural Center and how to get involved, contact Swabik at 453-6977.