HAMPTON. Va. (WAVY) - A Hampton community center is preparing for a visit from former president Bill Clinton this weekend.
Clinton will make appearances in Hampton and Norfolk over the weekend to rally for Va. democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe. Volunteers at the Y. H. THomas Community Center say they are honored that of all the places in Hampton, the campaign chose them.
Volunteers and city employees are doing all they can to prepare for the visit because even though the center has hosted governors and other politicians in the past, it's never had the honor of a presidential guest.
"We're getting in all the corners, crews have gone into the rafters, dusting and cleaning," said the center's
executive director, Synethia White. "It's pretty rare a president, sitting or former, to visit a facility like this. We're just a neighborhood center."
Officials from the Secret Service came on Friday to scope the building for the former president's visit. 400 people are expected to attend the campaign event.
"People have been calling and saying, 'Did you know the president is going to come to our Y. H. Thomas?' I mean, I got calls," White said. "It's definitely very exciting. Last year we were one of the sites canvassed by President Obama's advance team."
White says both President Barack Obama and Clinton considered the site because of its rich history.
"It was the only black junior high school in which kids could attend," former student Leroy Crosby said.
The school, which is now the community center, has played a role in shaping judges, athletes, and icons like Doctor Mary Christian, one of the first African Americans to serve as a delegate after reconstruction.
"It means something to me because the heart and family of this community resonates in this building," said Dr. Christian. "Because of the history, it validates the hard work that went on by the founders and the community organizers."
Clinton sent a signed letter to the center in the 1990's recognizing it. The center hopes Clinton will sign the letter again during his visit this weekend. He will speak at the rally at 7:45 p.m. on Sunday at the Y.H. Thomas Community Center's gymnasium.
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