Youth center to provide teens safe space


Photos by Traci Westcott/The Herald
Mike Wright of Wright Masonry and his son, Mike Wright Jr., lay bricks on the facade of the youth center in Birdseye on Monday.

BIRDSEYE — A youth center in the works in Birdseye could open by the end of summer.

Volunteers are currently working to rehabilitate a building — formerly an old masonic lodge — along State Road 145, just three doors south of the Birdseye Branch Library.

The center, dubbed the Birdseye Youth Center, is a project by the Victory Worship Center’s youth ministry. The Birdseye church started looking for a space about two and a half years ago and bought the building next to the church, which will become the youth center, a year later.

Church Pastor Jason Throop of St. Croix hopes the center will be a safe place for teens — it will be open for middle and high schoolers — and that it will “keep them from doing what youth do.”

“Kids find ways to get in trouble when they’re bored,” Throop said. “We just want to give them a place to come [where] they can just be ... Just to help them in ways we can, when they need someone to talk to, or they just had a bad day. To be there for them and show that people care about them.”

Wright Masonry workers prep the facade of the youth center to begin laying bricks in Birdseye on Monday.

The center will have a Wii, a ping pong and pool table, a kitchenette and a lounge area.

And there is room for it to grow.

“We’ll have to see what it grows into,” Throop said.

One unique feature is that volunteers are rehabilitating the outside of the building with bricks from the former historic Koerner Block building, which was burned by arson in 2017.

“That’s probably been the biggest response, that something good has come out of that fire,” Throop said.

The Birdseye Youth Center has been funded by the church, donations and fundraisers. Volunteers started rehabbing the building shortly after the church took possession.

“It’s a way to get more kids in,” Throop said of the youth center and the church’s ministry. “If they step in the church, that’s fine. If they don’t and this is where we reach them, then that’s great.”

Throop said the youth center will initially be open Friday evenings, with the goal of later expanding days and hours.

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