(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) A local agency in St. Joseph has opened its doors as a safe place for homeless, runaways, or at-risk teens.
YWCA's GRIT Center, officially opened in July. The Growing Resilient Independent Teens Center's purpose is to serve as a resource center where kids can come and work on homework, play games, read, participate in creative activities, and seek assistance on how to connect with outreach services through partner organizations.
"The reason we formed the center is because we found out through our healthy teen program how many of our teens don't have stable housing," said Rachel Krezter who is the Family Resources Director at the YWCA. "So we started the research there and thought, 'okay, if this is happening with the 30 to 40 parents that we have in our parenting program, it has to be happening with other youth in the community as well. ' So, we saw a need, and then as everything has progressed, we feel like we can help every teen in some way."
Kretzer emphasized that any teen is welcome to come to the center.
"We know there's a need for it," said Kretzer. "We just need to get the word out there to other teens that this is a place for them to come and that we are here for them and they are welcome to participate in a variety of activities while they're here.
The GRIT Center is currently open from 12 to 5 P.M. Monday through Friday. Once school begins, the center will have virtual/online learning sessions from 12 to 4 P.M. and then 4 to 7 is open for regular hangout hours. They also offer a different workshop every Wednesday with a variety of arts and crafts activities. Meals are provided by Second Harvest No Hunger Summer. Once school begins, teens will have to bring their own sack lunch.
"It's fun," said Emilea Lowrance, one of the teens that attends GRIT Center. "We get to do interesting stuff and hangout and get to know other people."