Jefferson Teen Center was incorporated and has been in operation since 1992. Since our 2005 relocation to the Chimacum school campus, the numbers of children we serve has been increasing steadily, as each new class year ushers in new middle-schoolers eager to come to the Teen Center, while our “old timers” tend to continue to visit us until they graduate high school. We are open every day after school from 2 to 4:30 PM., and last winter we moved our operations to a larger portable building as our small space could no longer accommodate the numbers of children that flock to our facility every day. Chimacum School, and the Jefferson County youth service community in general, recognize the value of our services to the underserved and needy young people in this economically distressed rural area. We routinely serve more than forty to fifty teens at a time.
The poverty status of Jefferson County is much more severe than the statewide average, and data collected by local school districts indicates that drug and alcohol use is a more serious problem here than elsewhere in the state. While we do not screen our clients according to income, we accept the data provided by Chimacum School, from whom we lease our facility. Currently, the school reports that close to 40% of its students are in the free or reduced lunch program.
Our young patrons share trust, rapport and respect with our wonderful staff, while they hang out with friends, read, play music, foosball and pool, watch movies or use the computers for homework and school-filtered internet surfing. Our staff members are loved and trusted by the kids, and they also have a good working relationship with high school and middle school counselors when problems arise - confidentiality issues do come into play, but we are able to help solve problems and certainly to report them when they need attention. Some of our “veteran” high-school seniors help us out daily and provide valuable mentoring services to our younger attendees. We also offer academic tutoring as well as music and art programs, and this past year we have also had specialists offer programs on bullying, teen suicide and other issues. Because of serious events that impacted Chimacum High School students this year, the Teen Center brought a new focus to the problem of bullying, holding weekly “bullying bull sessions” that are successful and very well-attended. We work closely with local prevention organizations to ensure that we are providing a supportive atmosphere for youth to make healthy choices.
Our overall mission is to provide TriArea youth with the opportunity to be free, creative and accepting of themselves and others. We are the "safe place" for many of these youngsters, and our hope is that the values learned here will help them to escape from disadvantaged circumstances and become caring and connected members of our community. Our kids confide that without the Teen Center they were often "home alone with nothing to do", and statistics compiled by the Center for Juvenile Justice confirm that kids are most likely to be either the victims or perpetrators of crime in the immediate after-school hours.
We estimate that we serve about 350 individual middle- and high-schoolers each school year. Our annual budget is approximately $30,000 per year, and includes facility rental, staffing, snacks and incidentals.