TUFF Kids home in Cleveland readies for summer

TUFF Kids expects to have this building on Ross Ave. in Cleveland ready for summer camps.

Two years after the donation of a two-story building on Ross Street in Cleveland, the TUFF Kids organization expects renovations to be complete by summer, just in time to welcome children for summer camp activities.

The 2,000 square foot building, the former home of a now-defunct Freemason chapter, has been raised and leveled, new doors and windows have been installed and the interior has been reframed. Concrete piers were installed in the ground and steel beams were added to stabilize the structure. All that remains are electrical and plumbing work, then the installation of insulation, sheetrock, air conditioning and heating systems, and flooring.

While the “to-do” list still seems lengthy, Tuff Kids founder Eisha Jones is optimistic that the organization will meet its goals.

“We are hoping to be ready by summer. That’s the goal,” Jones said.

Through generous donations from businesses, organizations and individuals, TUFF Kids raised $87,000 to offset the cost of the renovations. The biggest donors were Cleveland Economic Development Corporation, Martin Chevrolet and the Rotary Club of Cleveland.

“We are still $60,000 away from our goal. That will complete the building. I have asked some home improvement stores to donate materials. If we are unable to get materials donated, then we will have to purchase the materials and hire contractors,” Jones said. “I am feeling pretty confident that we can raise the rest of the funds needed. If we can raise $87,000 in eight months, then I can raise the rest. I am very excited about what we have done. It’s only a little bit more.”

Jones said it feels like there is a race to the finish with summer quickly approaching.

“This year will be our 12th year to hold a summer camp for children in the Cleveland area. We average about 40 kids per year. This new building is not just for summer camp. It will be a place for us to have after-school activities,” Jones said. “The idle mind is the devil’s playground. When kids don’t have activities, they can get into things that will negatively affect their futures. We want children to be involved in activities that will positively impact their lives.”

TUFF Kids was founded in 2010 by Jones and Ivan “Tuffy” Williams. TUFF Kids devotes its energy to educating, mentoring, and helping the children of the Greater Cleveland, Texas area. Generated from a need for additional summertime youth services, concerned citizens stepped up and filled the gap.  

“Far too long the community has complained that there is nothing for the children to do in Cleveland, and we want to fill that gap between home and school where children can have access to information, resources and training that will help prepare them for the future and their destiny,” Jones said.

To donate to TUFF Kids, go online to https://www.tuffkids.org/, and click the donate button. Donations may also be made through Cashapp: $tuffkids or Venmo: @tuffkids. Checks may also be mailed to 1002 Vine St., Cleveland, Texas, 77327.

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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