NORTH TAZEWELL, Va. — Click here for video
More community support and $40,000 in donations are needed if the Second Chance Learning Center in North Tazewell is to remain open next school year.
Erik Robinson, co-founder of Second Chance for Kids, said he and co-founder Billy Wagner met with members of Tazewell’s American Legion Post #133 to discuss the lack of community support for Tazewell’s Second Chance center. Robinson said the Tazewell facility might have to close at the end of the school year if funds and support cannot be raised in time.
“We met with community leaders, and explained to them we haven’t had that much support from Tazewell,” Robinson said. “Bluefield has been very supportive of their office, but in Tazewell, we haven’t had support we need to keep that facility open. If we don’t start getting support and have people working with us, we are going to close the office. If we can’t start getting some sort of support, we won’t be able to open next school year. It costs about $40,000 to run that facility and that is what we are trying to raise.”
Though the annual Second Chance concert series has attracted big names and high ticket sales, Robinson said most of the money earned has gone back into paying performers and promotions for the event.
“In the first year of the concert, we were happy to just break even,” Robinson said. “There are so many first year expenses we have. Last year, our thing was to make it really big and get the word out. This is the first year we are hoping to actually make a profit. People don’t realize the artists don’t give us a discount just because we are a non-profit. We are hoping to raise some awareness and get the word out so we can do as much as possible.
If the Second Chance office in Tazewell is closed, Robinson said students in the area will miss out on valuable services helping them to graduate from high school.
“We provide free counseling, mentoring and tutoring to kids with mental and social needs,” Robinson said. “We help kids graduate high school. The more kids who graduate high school, the more chance they will have positive futures. We are trying to help these kids and encourage them to pay it forward too. We want them to come back to the community and get jobs, create a better workforce and help this community.”
During the meeting with the American Legion, Robinson said the $40,000 needed to keep the North Tazewell facility open goes toward teacher salaries and rent on the building.
“It isn’t that much compared to the operations costs for the Bluefield facility,” Robinson told the crowd. “We get so little from Tazewell, even though it costs three to four times less to run that facility than the office in Bluefield.”
Robinson said there is a great need for the Second Chance facility in the Tazewell area.
“If this center wasn’t needed, we wouldn’t be here,” Robinson said. “We wouldn’t have had a waiting list from day one... We aren’t getting the support from Tazewell that we need. All we are doing is trying to help the community. Everyone of these kids is part of your community. Our services are free, and we honestly need your help.”
During the meeting, Billy Wagner also pleaded with community members to help keep the facility in North Tazewell open.
“We are in trouble in Tazewell, and we have nothing from Tazewell as far as any kind of revenue,” Wagner said. “When I set this up, it was supposed to be community-based and that hasn’t happened yet. I have put $1.7 million of my own money into the local schools and nothing has come in from Tazewell. I know the economy is tough, but we can’t help our kids without your commitment. We can’t do what we need to do for these kids without your support. Our kids are the ones being affected. I need your help. We are going to have to close the Tazewell center at the end of this year if we don’t get the funds we need. This is all about these kids, which is what hurts me. I am asking for a lot because of these kids. It has become very difficult. I don’t want to close the Tazewell office because of a lack of community support.”
Wagner said there has been wide-support for the Bluefield facility as well as another facility planned in Richlands, though little support has come in for the Tazewell Center, which is closest to Wagner’s hometown of Tannersville.
Robinson said anyone who wanted to volunteer time or make a donation to the Second Chance center in Tazewell could do so by calling 276-326-1078.
— Contact Kate Coil at