Reminiscent of a Civil Rights event, the black spiritual "We Shall Overcome" was sung and candles lit Sunday during a prayer vigil at the Campbell Street Family and Youth Community Center, a facility for youth and senior citizens that is scheduled to close its doors by Dec. 1.
At the vigil, prayers were directed for the boys and girls and families of the city who use the facility at 600 Campbell St., which is scheduled to close after leadership of the Lycoming County Housing Authority, its owners, said earlier this month the organization no longer is legally or financially able to support it.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development gave tenants until Dec. 1 to move out following an investigation late last year by federal authorities revealing unauthorized spending by the authority to support it, but that's not stopping the prayers or a petition from circulating.
Attendees of the candlelight vigil stand in a circle during a prayer.
Those who love and grew up learning at the former Bethune-Douglass Center formed a circle and held lit candles.
One woman asked for a "light at the end of the tunnel" her voice echoing in the darkened gymnasium.
"God, put a fence around each child, protect them when they're not able to be here," said Theresa Williams, a mother of six - ages 2 to 10 - five of whom use it daily.
Williams, a member of the city planning commission, directed her plea to the power above and in control of its destiny.
Earlier, MeriLyn Severson, executive director of the authority, said the authority will honor deed restrictions on the property that will keep the building a community center.
That's a promise that does not seem to be enough for those who gathered at the vigil.
"We want to own our own Center," said the Rev. Sam Washington, pastor of Antioch Baptist Church on High Street. He expressed regret that many who don't live in the city "have a lot of say" about the facility's direction.
State Rep. Rick Mirabito, D-Williamsport, said a solution in place is to continue to build a grassroots organization to gain clout. "Do you want change directed by us or by people and forces beyond our control," Mirabito said.
"Great cities have to have great communities within it," Washington said. "Our community is not one color," he said. "We're every color of the rainbow.
"I don't believe they're going to close the door without a plan in place," he said. "We own our building, homes and we pay our taxes ... We have virtues and we need to share those things."
Washington said the problem is a lack of funds, not ideals.
As prayers went forth, information was shared, the circle of support didn't break, nor to the chorus of the song used in the fight to gain civil rights - "Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe we shall overcome some day."