Central Station youth center in Marion has found a niche providing a place to hang out for children, mostly in fifth through eighth grades.
A typical Friday or Saturday night has about 40 children in attendance, but there is much more of a shortage of adult volunteers to supervise the evenings. Week after week, the same handful of families volunteer to keep an eye out and make sure the children stay safe.
Volunteer Todd Carpenter said if parents gave it a chance, there wouldn’t be a shortage of volunteers.
“I think if they stayed up here for an hour, they’d realize it isn’t work,” he said.
“There’s really not anything to it,” Allison Shults said. “It’s a lot of fun, too.”
The center has two, two-hour shifts each Friday and Saturday, with two volunteers needed at all times. But if every parent who dropped their children off at the youth center volunteered, the amount of time needed from each volunteer would be cut dramatically, Diane Carpenter said.
Central Station has a basketball goal outside, computers and video games, a pool table, and other activities, but none of those are the reason children gather at the youth center.
“It’s just to socialize,” Diane Carpenter said.
Central Station’s operating expenses are paid by selling concessions and having fundraisers, like the hot dog dinner that was served Friday as part of the kickoff to summer vacation.
The center’s leadership board includes youth members, because organizers want kids to have input on the direction of the center. The center isn’t a finished project; organizers are trying to find a way to set up a volleyball court outside the building.
For more information or to volunteer, visit http://www.centralstationyouthcenter.com.