Montcalm Teen Center enjoying renewed success after reopening


By Cory Smith • Last Updated 9:18 pm on Friday, May 05, 2017

Carson City homeschooled student Donzell Slack, 17, left, plays checkers with his friend, Carson City-Crystal Middle School seventh-grader Miguel Beltran on Wednesday at the Montcalm Teen Center in Carson City. — Daily News/Cory Smith

CARSON CITY — From slinging a ping pong ball back and forth across a table to sitting down for a methodical game of checkers, the Montcalm Teen Center is again open as a place for youths to spend time with friends.

Located at 115 E. Main St. in downtown Carson City, the center reopened last November after closing in 2013. Now six months in of offering a weekly option for teenagers to play games and relax with friends in a safe environment, organizers say the facility is again serving its purpose as it did when it was originally established in 2003.

“We want to offer more things to the kids in this community,” Montcalm Teen Center board member Nancy Wilson said. “Right now there are board games, cards, ping pong, pool, basketball, watching TV or playing Xbox, and we have computers in case someone wants to do some homework.”

Carson City-Crystal Middle School seventh-grade student David Smith, 13, left, hits a ping pong ball to fellow seventh-grade student Kaden Walker, 12, on Wednesday at the Montcalm Teen Center in Carson City. — Daily News/Cory Smith

The center is open from 3 to 5 p.m. every Wednesday.

“We first started with just eight kids, but we’ve had as many as 24 at a time,” Wilson said. “We felt like kids didn’t really have a place to go. We’ve heard of a number of kids who are homeless, and we thought this might be a nice place for them to come as well.”

Wilson said the usual crowd typically consists of students from nearby Carson City-Crystal Middle School.

“We’re thinking this summer that possibly we’ll have a night during the week for high schoolers,” she said.

For Donzell Slack, 17, who is homeschooled in Carson City, the center has provided an opportunity for him to meet new friends.

“I’ve been coming here for a while, and it’s fun, actually,” he said. “We get to socialize, meet more kids, and especially for us homeschooled kids, it’s a chance to socialize with those that are from other schools.”

On Wednesday, Slack was watching TV at the front of the center, but it wasn’t long before he and his new friend, Carson City-Crystal seventh-grader Miguel Beltran, 14, came together for a game of checkers.

Carson City-Crystal Middle School student Benjamin Austin, 12, Montcalm Youth For Christ Executive Director Tim Grant, Jonathan Grabow, 12, Micah Wieland, 13, and Camron Havens, 12, play the game “crud” on a pool table. — Daily News/Cory Smith

“It’s a great experience. It’s just a chance to hang out and have fun with my friends,” Beltran said.

According to Wilson, the building was originally purchased by former Carson City residents Duane and Sherry Miller and opened in 2003. Once the Millers moved away from Carson City, Wilson said they deeded the building to the Montcalm Teen Center Board.

The center closed in 2013 mainly due to a lack of interest from teenagers and board members, but upon Wilson discussing the future of the center with new board members last summer, it was decided to reopen the center.

“We really don’t have any funding, but since we own the building, we can get by with donations,” Wilson said. “Members of the (Carson City) United Methodist Church volunteered to do a whole bunch of renovations before we reopened, and voilà, there it is.”

The center will also be the initial home of the Montcalm County chapter of Youth for Christ, which is organized by Montcalm Youth For Christ Executive Director Tim Grant.

Located at 115 E. Main St. in downtown Carson City, the Montcalm Teen Center re-opened last November after closing in 2013. The center is open from 3 to 5 p.m every Wednesday for teens to hang out and play games with friends. — Daily News/Cory Smith

Grant said by this fall he hopes to hold weekly outreach programs for teenagers who are not currently involved in church.

“As a nondenominational organization, we have a focus on high school and middle school students, but right now we’re in the fundraising and development stage,” he said. “The long-term vision is to be in every school district in the county with mainly volunteer teams of people that love the Lord and want to help kids navigate through life.”

Grant said beginning during the next Wednesday open session, a pilot program titled “Campus Life” will begin and last for five consecutive weeks.

“People can see what Youth for Christ is trying to begin here (at the Center) if they want,” he said. “For five weeks, we’ll be focusing on identity, that’s a challenging thing for kids at this age.”

For more information about the Montcalm Teen Center, email MontcalmCountyTeenCenter@gmail.com.

For more information about Montcalm Youth for Christ, email timgrant@yfcmail.org.

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