North Missouri Center for Youth & Families will host and open house on Jan. 22.

Maizey Knifong said she knew from the first encounter she had coaching youth that she wanted to work with students.

“I knew it pretty early on,” she said. “I wanted to have that one-on-one opportunity to be a positive mentor, to build relationships with kids.”

In April, Knifong, a Cameron native, became the executive director of the North Missouri Center for Youth & Families. The kindergarten through eighth grade after school and summer program is “more than just a daycare,” she said.

“We have curriculum, lesson plans; education is what is on the front of our minds when we do anything,” she said.

The curriculum is important to Knifong, an education major at North Central Missouri College, includes as strong focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), and these lessons are incorporated into social events and outings thro group takes during the summer, when their lessons are more in-depth. Year-round student achievement is important as mentors work with students on homework and building character traits. Students also work for months on the center's 18-bed garden. The Power Clovers 4H Club’s goal is to have each participant take an item to the county fair from either the garden or their other projects, Knifong added.

The center offers adult and family education along with GED classes, on top of the school aged children program. During the summer, the organization hosts No Hunger Summer, a program that allows anyone 18 years and younger to come to the center and eat lunch for free Monday through Friday. Those 18 and older can eat a meal for just $2.

As a non-profit the agency does what it can to keep costs low and frequently hosts fundraisers and “We are very blessed to have such caring and generous donors,” Knifong noted.

Grants have allowed for renovation of the facility, located at 211 Locust St. In 2013, when the program started, the building, a former grocery store, was remodeled. Since then they have been able to revamp the cafeteria and other areas of the facility.

While the upgrades to the facility help staff grow their programs and offerings, it is the work with the youth participants, that matters the most.

“Building great relationships is very important to us,” Knifong said. “Reaching out to these children and becoming a positive role model, is what it is all about. And when they walk up to you and give you a big - it is just the best thing. We take great pride in having relationships with the children, no one is just a number to us. Each child plays a very important role in what we do and how we operate, they are all - each one of them - is a part of who we are.”

Currently, North Missouri Center for Youth & Families has 52 students and their maximum enrollment is 60.

The organization is lead by a 11-member board. Board members include: Crystal Narr, president;

Dr. Jennifer Mercer, vice president; Natalie Leamer, secretary; Inger Young, Penny Kennebeck, Diane Garber and Pam Jarding. Four new members will also join the board during an open house on Jan.22. New board members include: Chillicothe Police Chief Jon Maples, Zach McMains, Clinton Macoubrie and Dustin Buell.

North Missouri Center for Youth & Families (NMCYF) is hosting an open house from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 22. The NMCYF staff and board of directors will be on hand to provide tours of the updated facility answer questions and provide information to all who attend.

“NMCYF has grown leaps and bounds during its short tenure and we would love for community

members, donors and supporters to have the opportunity to explore the inner workings of this amazing asset, “ stated Crystal Narr, board president.

The open house will take place at NMCYF, 211 Locust St.

For more information go online to http://www.nmcyf.org/ or call 660-646-1352.