Editor and Contributing Writer
Feature Photograph: Opelousas Life Church Pastor Kerney Thomas (Photograph by Freddie Herpin)
As Opelousas Life Church pastor Kerney Thomas continues to refurbish a 74-year-old Opelousas Golf Course, he plans to use the facility as a vehicle that he thinks can help redirect the paths for some of the city’s youth.
Thomas hopes to use the Indian Hills Golf and Country Club amenities as swimming, golf and tennis to create a positive atmosphere for the city’s children beginning this week.
“We’re basically in a war zone right now. We’re experiencing dire times and we hope by engaging young people in our programs that we can accomplish things others have not been able to accomplish,” Thomas said.
This summer Thomas, who has also gained international recognition as a televangelist on multiple networks, is opening the doors to the Country Club, which the Life Church purchased last year.
Tyrone Glover who has helped organize the free youth program from its inception, said that last week there were 212 children signed up to take part in the various activities offered by the youth program which begins during the summer.
Thomas said the Opelousas Life Church membership has worked hard to restore all aspects of the 103-acre Country Club since purchasing the property in September.
“This place wasn’t in good condition when we bought it. It really hadn’t been touched in three years. We have been working to redo the golf course, which hasn’t been easy. We have four holes that could be considered in playing condition right now. I know we have spent money fixing things up and it’s ready for the youth program to begin,” Thomas added.
Glover said the long range concept for rehabilitation of Indian Hills includes restoring the 18-holes for the golf course in addition to making the entire facility a community-friendly rendezvous.
“People are going to be allowed to walk on the cart paths in order to get some exercise. We want to be able to make it a community complex, with maybe adding a soccer field,” Glover said.
Thomas said since the purchase agreement was completed with the family members who owned the Indian Hills property, the Life Church membership has been gathering at the Country Club for Sunday worship service.
“We had been looking for properties and wanting to move from our other location (on Anointing Drive). We were also looking for a place with the youth of the city in mind. We also wanted to create a place where children could come in order to have fun,” said Thomas.
Glover said the youth who become involved in the club’s program will also have to volunteer for something more than swimming strokes, improving their golf swings and shooting hoops in the parking lot.
“You are going to see the kids’ involvement include breakout mentoring, showing them proper etiquette, such as how to tie a necktie and members of the community coming in and talking about different subjects, such as staying in school,” Glover pointed out.
When school recommences this year Glover added that there will be after school programs for those who have signed up. The after school programs will feature tutorials and mentoring, Glover said.
“We want this to be a place where the kids can go. It’s going to be all free. This is something I have been doing over the past year and it’s a chance for me to help out in the community,” said Glover.
Thomas said there is an immediate need to do something to turn the lives around for some Opelousas youths.
“I have wanted to do this all along, which is reach-out to the youths from the community. I thought we should start that program now. I didn’t think we should wait another year,” said Thomas.