A place for children
Joe Pengitore arrived in Mitchell five years ago with an idea and not much else. Pengitore, 64, wanted to start a place where children could come play and spend time with other children, rather than playing by themselves. He bought a building, lo...
Joe Pengitore arrived in Mitchell five years ago with an idea and not much else.
Pengitore, 64, wanted to start a place where children could come play and spend time with other children, rather than playing by themselves. He bought a building, located at the corner of 10th Avenue and Sanborn Boulevard, more than two years ago and started Ark Ministries.
"I wanted to provide a place -- a safe, Christian atmosphere -- where children can come and play in groups," Pengitore said.
On Monday, the first day the facility was open, the shelves were stacked with board games and movies. Nearby, there were pingpong and foosball tables and video games ready to be played. Pengitore said the facility is geared toward grade school and middle school students.
Pengitore, 64, is a retired nursing home administrator and spent most of the past two years renovating the building to meet his vision. He spent about $30,000 out of his retirement fund to do the work.
Pengitore did as much of the work as possible on his own and even built all of the furniture, but left the plumbing and electrical work to professionals.
"I can't believe I got it done by myself," he said.
Pengitore plans to do more painting to the building's exterior, as well as additional landscaping on the property in the future. He also hopes to upgrade some of the play equipment inside.
There will be a $2 per day charge for children who use the facility, or a $20 per month charge for unlimited use. Food will be available for reasonable prices, Pengitore said, and the facility is licensed by the state as a food service establishment.
The money from admissions and food sales will be used to cover expenses, but will not be kept for profit, Pengitore said.
Pengitore also hopes to raise funds by collecting aluminum cans to help children in other countries with basic necessities, such as food, clothing and school supplies.
Pengitore was driven to complete the project because of some of his own experiences as a child.
"I always played by myself, went to movies by myself and wasn't good at making friends," he said. "It hurts me when I see kids not happy, or struggling."
The facility will be open from 3 to 5 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 3 to 7 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. The hours could change when the weather improves during the summer, Pengitore said.