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ProTeen seeks input before building center for teens

by Merrie Leininger

After only nine people attended the ProTeen meeting May 22, the group decided it needed more community input before deciding to work with the Boys and Girls Club to bring a teen center to Douglas County.

The group heard a presentation from a representative of the Boys and Girls Club two months ago, and heard from the YMCA a month ago, but decided the YMCA would be replicating services that are planned as part of a county community center. Beyond that, the group decided members should not make a decision without hearing from other people who had been at the two previous meetings.

Steve Lewis echoed many others’ statements that they need to focus on getting a teen center more quickly than those organizations could provide.

Boys and Girls Club requires any organization working under their name to have two years budget – or $200,000 – in the bank before opening their doors.

However, Lewis and others said they were leaning towards the club.

“They’ve got a formula that works. I felt more confident in the infrastructure they are willing to provide us. As ProTeen, we’ve been doing a lot of things, but we get behind a national name and we’ll get more done now,” Lewis said.

ProTeen president Claudia Bertolone-Smith said she would like to learn more about the programs Boys and Girls Club provides by visiting area centers.

The group also decided it needed to focus on fund-raising and fashioning an active board to do so.

“I’m concerned with having to have the two-year operation money before we can open (with Boys and Girls Club). Whatever road we take, we’re going to come back to the community. We’re going to need some doers on this board,” board member Brian Fitzgerald said.

The public is invited to the next ProTeen meeting, Wednesday, June 21, at the Douglas High School counseling center. For more information, call Bertolone-Smith at 782-3244.