The Vian Peace Center helps fulfill the needs of Sequoyah County residents, but the local community center has recently found itself on the receiving end of generosity. Employee volunteers from Cherokee Casino Sallisaw, Cherokee Casino Roland and Cherokee Casino Tahlequah are helping the local nonprofit organization remodel and prepare a new, larger location. In the above photos, employee volunteers from Cherokee Nation Entertainment are clearing and preparing undeveloped land for the Vian Peace Center to feature greenhouses and a pond system as well as renovating donated properties. Tara Vest, Cherokee citizen and casino shift manager at Cherokee Casino Sallisaw, said, "It has been an amazing experience to watch the Peace Center grow over the last three years and to be here helping it open in a new location. It is a tremendous benefit to the children and adults of the Vian community, and I couldn't be happier to support it."
Vian Peace Center is taking over the old Gay Ritter gas station, which once served as a Red Cross center, the adjoining property and the land located directly across Schely Street. Cherokee Nation Entertainment employees are helping repurpose the donated properties by mudding, taping, and painting walls and ceilings. The employee volunteers are also assisting in cleaning the properties and moving items from the current location. Richard Tyler, director and founder of the Vian Peace Center, said, "Cherokee Nation and its businesses have been here helping us since the beginning. It is because of them, and our other volunteers and donors, that we're able to grow and help more people in even more ways." Since opening its doors in 2010, Vian Peace Center volunteers have witnessed a growing number of local residents needing a multitude of services. The outreach mission aims to serve more than 1,400 local households.
Vian Peace Center's newly renovated location is just a block down the road from its current home. The much larger 5,000 square foot space brings new and expanded services for residents in Vian and surrounding rural areas. A new educational facility and electronic library will provide information, teaching and a hands-on learning experience. Cherokee Casino employees are also helping clear and prepare the undeveloped land across the street. The land will feature greenhouses, which will grow fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as house an advanced aquaponic pond system with fresh fish. Vian Peace Center's current services include bimonthly food distribution, a mobile food pantry, food deliveries to homebound residents, a faith-based 12-step substance and alcohol recovery program, a backpack meal program and Christmas gifts for children of families in need. Cherokee Nation and its businesses continually support the multifaceted community outreach mission through various efforts.
The Vian Peace Center is currently located at 408 Schely St. in Vian. The center is open the second and fourth Tuesday and Thursday of every month, from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, and from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday. For more information about casino locations, visit www.cherokeecasino.com. Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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