PRINCETON — Jeff and Dana VanAutreve opened the local teen center, known as Second Story, in 2009 to provide a safe, fun space for students to hang out.
The two went On the Record with the BCR to discuss Second Story and the opportunities it provides for local youth.
What does a typical day look like at the teen center?
Tuesdays open from 4 to 8 p.m. for all junior high and high school youth. Serve a supper of some sort, hang out with small groups and activities for an hour during that time. Fridays open from 6:30 til 9:30 p.m. for junior high and from 6:30 to 11 p.m. for high school. Supper is served until 8 or 8:30 p.m., and usually Friday nights are open for the teens to hang out, play games, listen to music, watch movies, karaoke, craft, talk, sing, dance and have fun. Each night we have four to eight adult volunteers covering the different hours and rooms of Second Story. We do not do this alone. We are blessed by an amazing team of support including Robin, Chris, Tiffany, Mark, Kevin, Roger, Ed, Lisa, Julie, Ann, Jerry, Krista, Matt, Jack and Zach to name a few.
What is some of the feedback you’ve heard about Second Story?
Someone in our community thanks us everyday for providing the space. The kids are thankful also. We serve a tremendous group of teens who are doing a great job of holding their lives together. We are honored to be part of their lives. How can we help is another question asked during feedback. We are a 501(c)3, so any type of donation is accepted and tax deductible. Paper products such as paper plates, plastic forks and spoons, and cups or any other type of paper products are always welcomed.
How has the teen center changed since it opened?
We are now a 501(c)3, so we are officially a non-profit organization with an active board in place. We are open two nights a week serving 40 to 50 kids on Tuesdays and 75 to 100 kids on Fridays. Over 400 kids have went through our check-in system this past year, so the combination of kids changes every week, but the attendance stays about the same.
What sort of activities are offered at the teen center?
We are working with the Extension office to offer photography, cooking, robotics and a few other topics, as small group activities. We also always work with different projects like sewing, crafting, etc. There are pool tables, carpet ball, air hockey, basketball, gaming systems and four-square always available to play, too.
What do you hope kids remember about this place when they’re older?
That they are someone somebody cared about that didn’t have to. They are all unique and just that special. We aren’t their parents, nor anyone of us paid to do what we do with them. That’s how cared about they all are.
What are your future plans for Second Story?
To increase our leadership, activities and hours within the boundaries of our volunteer bank. We would love to see a manager set in place to coordinate our hours, donations, volunteers and activities.