PRINCETON — Jeff and Dana VanAutreve, owners of Johnson’s Carpet in downtown Princeton, are taking on a new project that will benefit the area youth.
Above their carpet business on North Main Street, they have renovated the large area for Second Story — a place where teens can hangout, meet friends, listen to music, watch a movie, eat a free meal, do homework, play games, do crafts and much more.
This is the sort of place the VanAutreves have wanted to provide to area youth for awhile now. As Christian youth pastors, they witnessed the need. They saw kids who were on their own most nights with Mom and Dad working late. Some had to find their own dinner meals, and others just needed a secure place where they felt accepted.
“It was then that we wanted to provide a shelter of some sort for these youth,” Dana said. “We wanted them to know everyone has a second story. Ours began with Jesus. He is the one who showed us that there was a need and that we could fulfill that need. We want kids to come here and share their second story with us.
“We want kids to come here where they can be nourished, be listened to, not judged or feel unaccepted,” she explained. “We will love anyone who walks through our doors.”
In the last six months, the VanAutreves have made big improvements to their second story space, and this Saturday they will host an open house event and welcome the community to come up and take a look at what they have to offer.
After the Living Works Suicide Walk on Saturday, guest speaker Keith O’Neil, who is a retired NFL football player, will be coming to Second Story to hangout with attendees, talk with them about his experiences and answer any questions that come his way.
The open house will be from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., and O’Neil will be at Second Story at 6:30 p.m.
There will be a free walking tacos bar and other snacks available for whoever wishes to grab a bite.
“We just wanted to make it more memorable by having him come and speak with the kids about some of the experiences he went through,” Dana said.
After the open house event, the VanAutreves hope to get a set schedule together for the summer. Right now they are working with a proposed schedule that offers an activity each night of the week. They will serve free meals Tuesdays and Thursdays, offer a video night on Wednesdays, provide concerts Fridays and Saturdays and will be closed on Sundays.
Each night, there will be volunteers, a man and a woman, who will supervise the kids and ongoing activities.
Right now, the VanAutreves are looking for additional volunteers to help out with supervision. Whether it’s just for one or two nights a week, the VanAutreves appreciate any help that comes their way.
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