The Ennis Teen Center needs more money and volunteers to keep operating through the upcoming school year, said center director and founder Cedar West.
West was banking on a successful fundraising effort during the Ennis Fourth of July parade and rodeo weekend and he wasn’t disappointed. However, it wasn’t enough to keep the center operating through the summer and if he can’t find more funding, it will close before Christmas.
Over the holiday weekend, volunteers for the teen center sold lemonade and water at both performances of the rodeo, along with breakfast burritos and lunches at the Ennis parade. The effort raised about $2,800 for the center.
“It was better than we had done before and we expected it to be off quite a bit this year due to the economy,” West said. “It basically gives us enough money to operate for three months.”
The Ennis Teen Center opened on the first floor of the Ennis Masonic Lodge in May 2004 with a huge community celebration and more than 45 people signed up as volunteer supervisors.
However, over the years the Teen Center has lost volunteer supervisors, which are needed to monitor activities and kids while the center is open.
To operate, the Teen Center needs at least two adult supervisors per night. The center is generally open Friday and Saturday nights form 7 to 11.
The idea is to have enough supervisors to only have to ask them to volunteer one night a month, he said. But that’s been difficult because of the lack of volunteers.
However, the need for the teen center is obvious, said activities director Candy Vincent. During the school year, the center averages about 24 kids who come by each night it’s open, Vincent said.
“It provides a place for those kids to go where they can feel kind of independent but they’re safe,” she said.
Vincent joined the staff in January and has organized everything from pool tournaments where the winner received a car, to karaoke and movie nights.
Besides money, the main thing the center needs is volunteers, she said.
Though the idea of spending four hours with a bunch of teenagers might seem intimidating, it actually is pretty simple and it’s fun, Vincent said.
“For the most part our kids are excellent,” she said. “They’re happy and they’re well-behaved for teenagers in my opinion.”
Supervisors work in pairs and can participate in the games with the kids.
“It’s fun,” she said. “It’s super easy and you know, who doesn’t like to play games.”
The teen center started out with about $40,000 both from community donations and from a grant from the Ennis Lions Club, West said. That money, plus community donations of things they’ve needed at the center has kept them going, along with their annual fundraising efforts.
“We’ve been able to keep our heads above water,” he said.
The teen center costs about $13,000 to operate each year.
“We’re down to the wire I guess, but I think we’ve raised enough to stay open three months in the winter,” West said.