COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — For a nearly decade, a Columbus nonprofit has been uplifting youth and underprivileged communities in the Hilltop neighborhood.

“This is the area that has seen so many homicides, this is the area where the children are at highest risk,” said Zerqa Abid, founder and president of My Project USA.

A 15-year-old teenager, Issa Jeylani, was shot and killed in the area while playing soccer this past July. Violence, drugs and gangs motivated Abig to create the organization, which began as a community food pantry then expanded to provide a youth soccer league and other engaging programs.

Now, Abid said she’s working to build a recreation center in the neighborhood.

“Anything that we see, that is needed, to strengthen the family, to protect their children, to empower their children, and toward the youth themselves, if there is something missing in their household the youth center is committed to provide it,” said Abid.

Abid was awarded a $50,000 grant from AARP, known as the Purpose Prize Award, due to her efforts in the community. In addition, the organization received a $100,000 grant from the city to go toward youth development. Abid most of those funds are tied up renting other recreational spaces in Hilltop.

“We rent facilities right now, we have rented the Big Run Park facility for just two hours, and it’s very expensive,” said Abid.

This is why Abid is aiming to create the organization’s own recreational center to provide protection and engagement for her neighborhood’s youth.

“I know that my community will support us, because this will serve, this will protect hundreds of children in Hilltop area, hundreds of children,” said Abid.

Abid estimates that the new facility will be built next year, and says they plan to name it in honor of Issa Jeylani.

Fundraising for the center can be found here.