Book Donations Requested To Benefit Hamilton Teen Center

By: Jeff Gambrell

HAMILTON – Tucked away off to the side from the busyness and clamor of Downtown
exists a haven for Hamilton’s youth during an uncertain time. HYPE (Hamilton Young
People Empowered), located at 228 Court Street, offers a safe space for students in
grades 7-12 to seek assistance with homework while socializing with their peers.
Established in 2012, Founder/CEO Shaquila Mathews returned to Hamilton to provide
more opportunities for the area's youth after having resided in Indianapolis for a period of time. What originated as a summer job and mentorship program has continually
expanded over the years to provide so much more.

Fill the shelves. Photo credit Jeff Gambrell

On the second floor of the former Hamilton Journal News building, Mathews and her
husband, Brandon, have transformed the space into a teen center. During the day, they
serve virtual learning students with breakfast/lunch, enrichment opportunities, and
homework assistance while in the afternoon they host an after-school program providing
tutoring services and socializing among their peers. While most businesses and
nonprofits were scaling back to brace themselves during the economic onslaught
brought from COVID-19 restrictions, Mathews ambitiously pushed forward with her
dream to make the HYPE Teen Life Center a reality. She hosted a grand opening for
the center at the beginning of the 2020-’21 school year. They currently occupy a small
portion of the floor with hopes to eventually fill in the rest of the space with more
services available to students.

In their current occupied space, HYPE has a room dedicated for quiet study time and a
library. Unfortunately, the books they have available for the students are very limited at
this time. Like the rest of the floor, they plan to grow their library but could use support
from the public. From now through Saturday, December 12th, there is a book drive
occurring to collect donations for the HYPE Teen Life Center’s library. Anything from
novels, encyclopedias, textbooks, comics, and more appropriate for grades 7-12 are
being accepted. Artspace Hamilton Lofts (220 High Street) is teaming up with HYPE to
be the drop-off location for the book drive.

David Stark, Director of Artspace Hamilton Lofts and The Strauss Gallery, was eager to
be involved after learning about the book drive. “Creativity lies in the heart of all artists”,
says Stark. “And few things inspire openness and creativity as much as the experience
of reading a good book. It's vital in the making and shaping of the leaders and artists of the next generation. So we' re excited to be partnering with Jeff Gambrell and HYPE towards this book drive”. Stark, a friend of Mathews, wants those interested in
contributing to know that books may be dropped off at their location Tuesday-Saturday from 11 AM – 4 PM. There is a designated bin for book drop-offs located inside their gift
shop.

For questions regarding the book drive or to request a contactless book donation
pickup, please contact Jeff Gambrell at jeff_gambrell@yahoo.com.