Eric Berry Foundation giving new life to old building in KCK

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- The nation pauses today to consider public service. Civic responsibility is one of the cornerstones of the life and times of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The late Dr. King’s birthday was observed on Monday. One celebration at a KCK community center was staged by a Kansas City Chiefs superstar.

New life is being injected into an old building in KCK. The Eric Berry Foundation has named it the State Street Project, and, on Dr. King's birthday, Berry, the Chiefs Pro-Bowl safety, joined school-aged kids from the community who are learning as they volunteer.

Berry's foundation strives to provide safe places for young people to play in their communities. College student Tori Carlson said that mission is an extension of the selflessness Dr. King preached.

“Martin Luther King died to serve. That's what he did, so we're called to serve,” Carlson said. “We're going to die, and we're going to serve.”

Many of these students have been involved in the refurbishing of the old Wyandotte Gymnasium, a building off State Avenue that was built nearly a century ago. As these students observed the holiday, they participated in a day of learning and leisure, which was their reward for helping in the State Street project. Lessons in woodworking, cooking, sewing and hip-hop dancing were offered free of charge.

Emily McNeill works with the Eric Berry Foundation. She said this old building, and its 95 years of history, will be used to teach job skills as well as being a place for fun.

“The building's awesome but it's still a shell. We're filling in the gaps, but pretty soon, it's going to be full-blown legit programming ,” McNeill said.

Representatives from the Eric Berry Foundation said with enough gatherings like this one, the State Street project can live again, and become a point of pride in the future.

Check out the Eric Berry Foundation website or Facebook page to learn more and get involved.