2007-11-29 / News

Teen center is ready for a sneak peek

By Michaela Kennedy

Just inside the recreation center entrance, hammers and radio tunes come from a room off to the right. Since the community theatre drew its curtain, volunteers at the teen center have been busier than elves in the rush to renovate a space by Christmas, a place for island teens to gather. The teenagers are inviting everyone to an informal open house on Saturday, Dec. 1, from 4 to 8 p.m. Refreshments and an arts and crafts show will be offered for everyone to enjoy.

Builder Ramon Ibarlucea climbs ladders, carries wood and measures carefully as Teen Coordinator Melissa Minto introduces the new space. The extreme makeover is still enduring an infrastructure remodeling phase. Minto admits, with the changes in weather and idiosyncrasies of an older building, "The biggest task is the measuring."

Minto and the construction crew dove into the renovation project as soon as the run of the play ended. Despite the wait, and additionally not accepting help from teen volunteers due to liability concerns, Minto remains confident that the to-do list will move fast. The new Teen Center will be ready for the official opening by the end of the year, if not by Christmas.

Minto has joined forces with the Jamestown Education Foundation and designed a helpline that ensures streamlined support. "Tiles for Teens" will offer tiles of different sizes, and of different donation amounts, to be used towards needs and maintenance of the teen center. Many needed items are still on the wish list, and the tiles promotion is expected to fill the gap. "It's a way to keep us from getting a lot of one thing that we really don't need," Minto adds. More information about the fund-raiser can be found at the open house on Saturday.

Counter space with wiring kitty-corners the back, providing the basics for computer stations. Tables and chairs will be available for independent or group work. Another corner is designed as a donation library corner. Minto emphasizes the center as a constructive work space, not just a place to linger. "We hope to have the older kids help tutor and mentor the younger ones. We'll be looking for regular volunteers that would help tutor in the afternoons," Minto says.

The teen coordinator goes on to say that more craft-oriented workshops will be offered.

Minto also says she will be looking for volunteers before the opening, people who can help with painting and other finishing touches. For more information on how to help, call Melissa at 423- 7260.

Recreation director Bill Piva mentions that volunteers, teenaged and adult, will be needed to help staff the center after it opens in January. "We're excited to see it come together," Piva said.

"In no way this is the grand opening," Minto notes. The staff and the youngsters thought it would be a good idea to invite people in around the time of the Community Christmas Tree lighting, and give people a chance to visit the work in progress. The grand opening is targeted for the weekend of Jan. 4.

Lew Kitts, facilities director for the school district, stopped in front of the recreation center for a moment to listen to the hammering and other construction-type noises. "They're working hard in there to make a good teen center," he comments with a grin. Kitts flashes back in time to the same stoop when he was a teenager and the recreation center was the ageless teen hangout. Moments later, third, fourth, and fifth grade students stream in the door, some carrying food, others greeting friends at the ping pong table. "The younger kids are really excited about the teen center, because they see it in their future," Minto said.

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