Written by Don Ratzlaff Tuesday, 22 May 2012 15:01
The first Dale Hague Memorial Hub Benefit Dinner &?Concert will begin at 5 p.m. with a sloppy-joe meal followed by a reunion concert by the local band On the Blacktop starting at 9 p.m.
All donations during the evening will go to support The Hub, the downtown center that Hague was instrumental in starting and maintaining over its six years of service to local youth.
The inaugural fundraiser comes five days before the one-year anniversary of the unexpected death of the community’s long-time dentist and volunteer at age 63.
“We want to keep going what he started,” said Doe Ann Hague, Dale’s widow and equally passionate partner with The Hub. “Dale grew up in this area. He went to school here, we moved here specifically to have our kids in school here. His dental practice was here for 38 years.
A place for youth
The couple opened The Hub as a non-profit youth organization in spring 2006. The goal was to provide a safe place for youth to socialize, build relationships and receive healthy mentoring.
Despite the challenges along the way, The Hub seems to be accomplishing its mission.
“It’s given the youth a place to hang out,” said Police Chief Bruce Burke. “It’s a safe environment for youth, and it’s supervised. There’s all kinds of things to do there that are supervised by adults.”
Over the years, the activity options have expanded to include a snack bar, pool table, a variety of games, big screen TVs, computers and free Internet.
Located at 118 E. Walnut St., The Hub has hosted a variety of concerts and after-game get-togethers, but above all it provides a positive environment for youth to hang out.
The center also has become a morning gathering place and coffee stop for local women as well as a venue for church, school and family events.
“It’s a facility that has a variety of uses and has served the community well,” Burke said.
Ray Savage, assistant principal at the local high school and junior high, said The Hub was a “godsend” for his own family. His son, now a high school junior, began connecting with The Hub soon after it opened.
“In this town, you either rode your bike or played games inside your own house,” Savage said. “He played baseball in the summertime, but we had no place where kids could gather—especially those that can’t drive yet. For these kids, it has been a hugh impact for this town.”
In his role at school, Savage has seen the benefits for older youth, too.
“When it started it was more of a counseling place for our kids—a safe, protective place to go when maybe the home wasn’t safe on that given night,” he said.
Savage saluted Dale Hague for his role in the venture and his impact on the community.
“Doc Hague was instrumental in our school, too,” he said. “He worked on my (sideline) chain gang for years and years. He was a big part of our community, and without him it has struggled since then.
“I’m sure they’re trying to find a way to keep (The Hub) open and running without Doc.”
That’s precisely the goal of Friday’s benefit dinner and concert. The Hub’s biggest challenge over the years has been to generate enough revenue to keep the doors open.
Early in its existence, it was aided by a five-year $100,000 grant from the Kansas Juvenile Justice Authority, which enabled the center to hire a director and hook up to high-speed Internet.
About the same time, Compassion Kansas came through with a $10,300 grant to purchase five computers.
Over the years, the city has stepped up to provide free water, and in September 2010 Allegiance Communications installed free cable and Internet service for a year.
The past two years the Peabody Community Foundation has provided funding for new computers.
Some of the local churches have stepped up with regular donations.
“When Dale died, they doubled what they were giving,” Hague said. “And a group of women from the churches volunteer here and clean the building. Some of them have kids here, some don’t.
“That’s a huge thing.”
Hague said the contributions from individuals and organizations enable The Hub to cover its monthly utility bill and pay the salary of its part-time director, Nancy McLeod.
By one major financial challenge remains.
“What we’re going to run into now, come August, is we’ve got to make the mortgage payment again,” Doe Ann Hague said. “That’s when I’m scared.”
In the beginning, the Hagues acquired the building for a discounted price.
“He practically gave it to us,” Doe Ann said of the former owner. “He had an offer that would have paid him more, but he liked what we were going to do with it.”
During the renovation process, though, an interior wall collapsed.
“We wouldn’t have the mortgage if the wall wouldn’t have fallen down,” Hague said.
As it turned out, Dale Hague quietly had been making double payments on the mortgage—a secret he kept even from his wife. At the time of his death, the year ahead was paid in full.
“He wanted to give back to the community that had given a lot to him as a kid and to his children,” Hague said of her husband’s generosity. “He wanted to be able to keep going what he started.”
Beyond meeting the financial need, Hague and McLeod said they hope the upcoming benefit dinner will literally open the door of The Hub to more people in the community.
“There are still a lot of people in this town who have never been in here,” McLeod said. “They need to come in and see it because it is a nice place. When people come in, they’re very impressed.”
Both women take pride in the fact that the center has never been victimized by intentional vandalism.
“They tell me this is their place,” McLeod said of the youth who have made The Hub a second home.
Community volunteers are always welcomed at The Hub, whether it’s to provide food occasionally, help maintain the building or to build relationships with the youth.
“There are a lot of people in this community who care about kids, but maybe they don’t find out how they can help,” McLeod said. “It’s an important thing to do.”
Hague and McLeod also issued an open call to area youth bands.
“We would love to have any high school or college kids to come in here,” Hague said. “They can do their own thing and perform at The Hub.”
Added McLeod with a smile: “We’ll let them play no matter how bad they are—and we’ve had some really bad ones.”
On the Border was one of the local garage bands that played at the The Hub. Now in college, band members are reuniting for Friday’s concert because of what the center meant to them.
“That says a lot,” Hague said.
To learn more about contributing money or time to the mission of The Hub, call McLeod at 620-983-2949. All financial contributions to The Hub are tax deductible.