Family Pathways Teen Center coming to North Branch

At the Feb. 12 Stacy City Council meeting, Family Pathways’ Executive Director Rich Smith made the announcement that their Youth Services department will be moving the Stacy Teen Center to downtown North Branch.

“We are very excited about this opportunity to move the teen center closer to the schools,” Rich said in a press release. The decision was made because we care deeply about the welfare of our youth and we want to offer as many kids as possible access to safe, supervised after-school opportunities.  We are confident the expanded programming, the opportunity to interact with a greater number of their peers, and the planned collaboration with other local youth groups will be beneficial to all.”

He explained, “Initially, Family Pathways opened the Used Book Store with a goal that the store would generate funds to offset some of the building’s overhead so the back half of the space could house Family Pathways North Branch Food Shelf.

“With dedicated, hardworking bookstore volunteers running the day-to-day store operations for the past three years that was achieved and more, including paving the way for the expansion of our youth programming.

“Family Pathways Board of Directors deems this change from a retail (income generating) enterprise to a program service one to be in the best interest of our mission to work with communities to develop supportive, caring relationships to help people meet their basic needs.  We fulfill our mission through our basic life services (food shelves), senior services and youth services programs. Family Pathways Food Shelf serving Stacy, North Branch, Harris, and Rush City will continue to serve the community from the back portion of the building located at 6381 Main Street in North Branch and the teen center will occupy the front of the building.”

According to Don Lenhart, Youth Services coordinator, the relocation of the Teen Center will allow the program to reach more youth in grades 7-12 in the North Branch school district as well as the town of Rush City. He said, “In addition to greater student outreach and collaboration with local youth groups, we plan to expand programming to include a new career development project. This project will help youth discover their strengths and passions and then explore how their “spark” can be developed into a career. Youth will gain skills, knowledge and experience valuable in creating their post-high school plan.”

The space will also accommodate the organization’s Circle of Friends program.  This program matches special needs teens with peer buddy mentors, providing them with opportunities for social interaction at the Teen Center and out in the community, furthering their interpersonal development. Circle of Friends has operated in collaboration with the schools since 2002.

The current Teen Center in Stacy will close March 16 with a party to celebrate all the lives the program has impacted thanks to community support over the center’s seven-year history.

To accommodate Stacy youth, transportation from the North Branch Teen Center to Stacy is available from Heartland Express at 5 pm.  The cost is $2 per student, but financial assistance can be arranged.  Transportation will also be coordinated by Family Pathways to get Stacy youth to special events.

The doors of the new teen center in downtown North Branch will open April 1, 1 p.m. The center will be open Mondays, 1 to 7 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday, 3 to 7 p.m., and Fridays, 3 to 9 p.m. The calendar for special events on Saturdays is posted at www.familypathways.org.

The bookstore will close March 1 with a party celebrating the volunteers.  Loyal bookstore customers accustomed to a good selection and great prices are encouraged to visit one of Family Pathways 10 Thrift Stores to find an extensive selection of books.

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