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Teen Center Opens

Young people instrumental in helping organize the new Valley Teen Center hangout are, left to right, Cierra Ebbert, 16, Asa Daniels, 13, Elijah Hansen-Lints, 15 and Michael Michael, 16.

The new non-profit Valley Teen Center is open and just $6,000 away from having two part-time paid staffers and a year’s rent for its new home at TwispWorks, according to Phyllis Daniels, VTC board president and self-described “supervising mom.” While fund-raising continues, activities and drop-in hours are scheduled through the end of June, including a short-film and video night that starts at 7 p.m. Friday, April 6.

Last week a small group of teens, parents, prospective volunteers and board members gathered at the center’s new building to hear about plans and check out designs for the interior spaces that were drawn up by participating teens and a local architect.

Copies of the VTC strategic plan were distributed as well as information and applications for the fingerprint and FBI background checks to be required for all employees and volunteers, including those who chaperone events, staff the center or work directly with young people.

The stategic plan acknowledges that while there are multiple sports, art and music activities for young people in the Methow Valley, there are “limited options for teens to gather in a safe, dynamic, unstructured” place. “The VTC will strive to provide an emotionally and physically safe environment for teens to socialize and create positive relationships, including with adult mentors,” the plan says. “As a condition of participation ... teens will agree to participate in a positive culture free from bullying, peer pressure, drugs and alcohol, etc.”

Parents were told that teens will sign in and out and fill out a form that includes emergency contact numbers. “We would love to have parents involved in developing these policies,” said Karissa McLane, VTC board member and executive director of Room One.

Walls have been painted during this week's spring break. A list of furnishings and other items the VTC hopes will be donated includes two or three comfy couches, chairs (both simple folding and bean bag style), rugs, a large dining table, folding rectangular tables, two or three computers in good condition (desktop or laptop), shelving, lumber (plywood and 2x4s), dishes (plates, bowls, cups and silverware), board games and outdoor balls and games, and an alarm or bell for the back-door exit. Anyone with donations can contact Daniels at 997-9211.

Valley Teen Center board member Karissa McLane, left, and Phyllis Daniels, board president and "supervising mom," speak to an audience of teens, parents and potential volunteers at a recent community open house at TwispWorks.

“We have a ping pong table and one or two pinball machines on loan,” Daniels told the group. The teen steering committee has planned special events every other Friday night. (See sidebar for schedule.)

In a recent interview, Daniels acknowledged that transportation for teens can be a challenge. She said she has arranged for the school bus to drop teens at the VTC on Wednesdays and Fridays if they bring a note for the bus driver from a parent or guardian saying they can do so. The note is a one-time requirement and there is no charge for the ride. She added that plans are in the works for providing rides home in the evening, probably by volunteer parents. There also is a van available, she said, that can take teens from Winthrop to the VTC in Twisp.  A ride-share program will be established as soon as the VTC website is completed.

Staffing will improve this month when a VISTA volunteer arrives at TwispWorks. That person will be shared with the teen center and do program development and behind-the-scenes work. “We also have the opportunity to get an AmeriCorps person,” Daniels added. That person’s time will be split with the Red Shed gardening and nutrition program sponsored by Room One. Applications are being reviewed.

Daniels is one of many volunteers who’ve helped bring a teen center program with its own building to fruition over several years time. A Teen Steering Committee, other parents and VTC board members and community volunteers and organizations have contributed.

Additional board members are being sought. “We really want younger people involved, some young adults to be role models for these kids,” Daniels said. Anyone with grant-writing skills would be appreciated, she added. Current board members include Daniels, McLane and Adrianne Moore from Room One, Leia Hansen from the River Run Inn, and Paul Smotherman, who works part of the year in Greenland. 

“Lincoln Post was instrumental in getting us going,” Daniels added, but he is president of the Community School board and doesn’t have time to serve the VTC board at the moment. “He’ll be back.”  Jean Bergevin and her daughter Tabitha also are involved.

“We’ve been working on this project about two years,” McLane told the community gathering.


Valley Teen Center Schedule

The new Valley Teen Center is located on the TwispWorks property at the corner of Glover Street and Highway 20 in Twisp. It is open three days a week: Wednesdays from 4 to 8 p.m. starting April 11, Fridays from 4 to 10:30 or 11 p.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. starting April 15.

Special events are scheduled every other Friday night through June. Movies will be shown on Friday nights when there are no special programs. All events are free, as is the food to be served Friday nights starting at 6 p.m. On Wednesdays and Sundays the center is open so teens can have a place to hang out, play games and do homework.

Friday night events
April 6: A short-film night of videos made by young people starts at 7 p.m.

April 13: Movie night

April 20: A "trash dance" will follow a session of making outfits from recycled materials of all kinds. This is a teen spinoff of the Confluence Gallery’s recycled wear fashion event. VTC volunteer and local seamstress Autumn Jateff will help teens create their garments.

April 27: Movie night

May 4: Spring carnival and competition.

May 11 Movie night

May 18: Karaoke and Open Mic night

May 25: Movie night

June 1: Battle of the Bands starting at 7 p.m.

June 8: Movie night

June 15: School’s Out! Summer splash party from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

June 22: Movie night

June 23: Art Walk featuring teen artwork and Open Mic

June 29: Movie night


Daniels was a single mom living in Seattle who had good friends in the Methow when her son Asa, now 13 and in the 8th grade, said to her, “Mom, let’s just put a free sign on our house and leave.” Instead, Daniels rented the Seattle house and the pair moved into a rental house up the Chewuch until she was sure things would work out here. They did, and she has since purchased a house in Twisp.

The “supervising mom” of the teen center was once a VISTA volunteer with the Seattle School District. Among other skills, she is an artist who has worked professionally on theater props.

Asa, who loves skateboarding, was a  regular at the skate park in Winthrop when he first moved here. He heard about a meeting to talk about the skate park and a teen center and told his mom about it.

Daniels said she wasn’t sure who was sponsoring the project or working on it, but she found “a wonderful group of people,” including three Liberty Bell High School seniors who for their senior project had written a successful grant proposal and established a schedule of teen activities every other Friday. “The teens started it themselves,” she added.

Asa told the recent community meeting audience that he got involved after agreeing to go to a meeting with his mom. He said he’s “had a lot of fun” working on the Teen Steering Committee. He’s done some tech things, including showing the Friday night movies.  Steering committee members Cierra Ebbert, 16, and Michael Michael, 16, welcomed the audience and shared their enthusiasm for the project. Michael is planning to build furniture for the teen center in his shop class.

Room One will be a fiscal sponsor for the VTC until the end of 2012, Daniels said. The Winthrop Kiwanis has been a fiscal supporter and continuing donations from the community, which are tax-deductible, are welcome. TwispWorks made the rental space available by moving its administrative office to another building. 

 “We really honor the idea that kids need some time to relax and just be kids,” Daniels said. “We want them to be able to hang out together in a safe place.”



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