Teen center eyed at former furniture store in Minden | RecordCourier.com

Teen center eyed at former furniture store in Minden

by Merrie Leininger

ProTeen, a group working to bring a teen center to Carson Valley, is even closer to its goal today.

The group is looking at the possibility of renting the building on Highway 395 between Douglas County Engine Company and C.O.D. Garage that has stood vacant for three years since a furniture store moved out.

A meeting Monday night at the Douglas High School library spurred on the enthusiasm of the group when the director of a Sacramento-area teen center applauded ProTeen’s initiative.

Joyce Arredondo, director of the North Area Teen Center in Carmichael, said the group that put together that center took 4-1/2 years to get started and ProTeen was doing much better.

Kelli Taylor of Douglas County Juvenile Probation is one of the organizers who wants to move ahead as quickly as possible and get a center open by this fall.

Taylor said a lot of recreational equipment has already been donated, such as skateboarding ramps, a pool table and an air hockey table, but other things are still needed.

ProTeen is seeking donations of a big-screen television, a VCR, a stereo system, portable basketball hoops, and furniture including couches, tables and chairs.

“What we’re really looking for is more public participation and we want to develop more partnerships in the community,” Taylor said. “We want businesses who can make this kind of their pet project and do fund-raising with us.”

n Spread the word. Students from Carson Valley Middle School and Douglas High School were at the meeting and offered their services for fund-raising and spreading the word to other teen-agers.

Arredondo is one of two employees of the North Area Teen Center, which operates under the umbrella of a non-denominational Christian group called Youth For Christ. The center has been open for about 10 months and gets about 125-150 students through its doors a week. The center runs with the help of many volunteers, she said.

Arredondo gave the group a lot of ideas about how her group raises the $10,000 per-month operating costs.

Some ideas were golf tournaments, a spaghetti feed with a silent auction and a newsletter.

One of Arredondo’s main concerns focused on the teens themselves.

“Before we even opened the doors, we had a teen advisory board and they told us what to do from what colors to paint the walls to what color the carpet would be to what kind of sodas. They wrote the rules themselves. If it’s not a safety issue or a moral issue they win; we defer to them,” she said. “It brings the students’ views in so there is ownership by the students who go there.”

n Deterrent. Arredondo showed a video of a local news interview with her and a student leader of the center, Kendra Levine.

Kendra said the benefits of the center to her were the diversity of students she now meets and the good relationship with the police officers who drop by to talk with the students.

A police officer originated the North Area Teen Center and the police department uses it as a kind of substation.

“When kids see them (police) on the street now, there’s not so much of the confrontational attitude any more,” Kendra said.

Arredondo said the officers serve as a deterrent, along with the students’ own rules.

“We’ve never had a fight or a bust even though we do have different kinds of kids there. And the deputies aren’t there all the time, they pop in a couple of times week,” she said. “The kids turn to the deputies when they have problems at home or school.”

n The old furniture store will be open to the public Thursday between 6-7 p.m. for those who are interested in viewing the facility.

n The next ProTeen meeting will be held 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 21, at the DHS library.

For more information, call Taylor at 782-9813.