Reporter: James Gherardi l Videographer: Jonathan Merryman
Martinsville, VA - For more than a decade, it's been making kids into better students and adults into better parents. Now the Education Station at Liberty Fair Mall in Martinsville is going away.
Henry County Schools fund Education Station, but now they just don't have the money to keep it open. Many of the programs will continue, but this summer, the station, which has offered free help to hundreds of families, will be closing.
For six years, Sarah Hairston has come to Education Station; some days with her son and others alone just to use the free Internet.
"They have a lot of information to give to these parents young, middle-aged, and old to help them deal with their kids," said Hairston.
The parent resource center provides free parenting classes, computer literacy courses, reading, and art classes for children. Students come to use the computers and quiet areas for studying. For 12 years, it's been a beacon for Martinsville parents, and now it'll close for good.
"It's going to be hard to survive without it because a lot of people can't afford a personal computer right now, or the Internet service because things are so tough in this area," said Hairston.
"I've just seen the kids grow up here. We've had students that have had problems in school that we've been able to help them with. And like I say, they've come here from the second grade on up, and now they're in high school," said 10 year coordinator Lee Eden.
Eden says, while the formal facility will close, some of the same services will be shifted into schools. And while programs she says won't be lost, a Martinsville mainstay will be gone forever.
"It's always sad to see something end, but you just have to hope that things will be better in the future," said Eden.
"It caters to really the whole community, so I can't imagine this mall without this place," said Hairston.
The center will be closing its doors this June. School administrators hope all programs currently offered will be able to continue at some capacity come next school year.