After a history of hurdles including a lack of staffing and funding, the Richmond Teen Center re-opened on Oct. 5 and is serving more than 20 teens each day, according to the center’s director Anthony Young, who previously served as the city’s parks and recreation summer camp coordinator.

“I’m gradually gaining kids all the time,” Young said. “We started out with three kids, and now we’re averaging 20 plus. I’d like (the center) to eventually be able to host approximately 40 to 50 kids.”

The teen center is located inside the Betty Miller Center on N. Estill Avenue, which used to be the headquarters for a local chapter of the Boys and Girls Club of America. However, the center was closed when the chapter lost its funding.

It was re-opened earlier this year, but was again forced to close the doors because of lack of community support and funding.

The Richmond Teen Center serves youth ranging from sixth to 12th grade, and is open Monday through Friday from 3 to 7 p.m. The center is closed on days that Madison County schools are not in session, whether it be for a pre-scheduled holiday or inclement weather.

“This is due to the fact that many youth rely on after school bus transportation to get them to the (teen center),” said Becky Ritchey, chair of center’s Blue Ribbon Commission.

There is no cost to attend the center, but they must have parental consent, a means of transportation home or live close enough to the center to walk home, she said.

“The Richmond Teen Center is extremely important as it provides many kids a great place to hang out with friends and not be unsupervised during those critical afternoon hours when many parents are still at work,” Ritchey said.

Tutors are available at the center to assist with homework, and youth are given an opportunity to play games, music and make arts and crafts.

“We’re trying to promote a positive atmosphere where the kids can come and have a safe place to go so that they’re not on the streets,” Young said.

The Richmond Teen Center hosted its first “Teen Dance” on Nov. 19.

“A local DJ has donated is services and will be coming back on the third Thursday of every month for the next several months,” she said.

The next teen center dance will be on Dec. 17 from 5 to 7 p.m.

Getting the Richmond Teen Center back in operation has not been easy, and “... truly is a multi-agency collaboration,” said David May, associate professor and graduate program coordinator for the Correctional and Juvenile Justice Department at Eastern Kentucky University.

Agencies involved include the City of Richmond, Richmond Parks and Recreation, Madison County Public Schools, EKU, the Madison County Delinquency Prevention Council and several other local agencies.

All of the teen centers’ computers, monitors and printers were donated by Connect Kentucky, an organization based in Frankfort, and the Opportunity for Work and Learning Center in Lexington, May said.

“Mike Land from EKU’s College of Justice and Safety and another community member provided the technical assistance to make the Internet and the server work,” he said.

Getting the funds needed to keep the center in operation always is a challenge, Young said.

“I have to fund things out of my own pocket sometimes if I can’t get it donated,” he said. “One of our main goals is to get a budget established.”

Young’s salary still is being paid out of the city’s parks and recreation budget, and the use of the building each day is provided by the City of Richmond, “ ... but the center is currently operating on virtually no additional budget,” Ritchey said. “We’ve received a few donations from local businesses, churches, food banks and community members, but much, much more is needed.”

EKU’s College of Justice and Safety is helping provide a graduate assistant to assist Young with the center’s daily operations.

A few of the teen center’s needs include volunteers, monetary donations, food, drinks, paper goods, board games and sporting equipment.

Anyone who would like to donate their time and/or services to the teen center can call Young at 200-0311.



Ronica Shannon can be reached at rshannon@richmondregister.com or 624-6608.

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