In the winter of 2008 St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church adopted a strategic planning approach to community outreach. That spring they conducted a door-to-door survey of 223 homes, to determined the perceived needs of people in the greater Syracuse Indiana area. The survey demonstrated that many people, both parents and non-parents, believe that youth needed something to do during their free time.
In addition, our research indicates that youth are negatively impacted by broken families and a lack of positive role models. Likewise, most teenagers do not have a spiritual foundation, upon which to make constructive choices in their lives.
In order to address these needs, St. Andrew’s funded the formation of a public charity in September of 2009, called Syracuse Community Youth Initiative, Inc. The Syracuse Community Youth Initiative became a collaborative effort, drawing resources from other not-for-profits, churches, service clubs, private individuals, foundations, and government funds. We began meeting in the Syracuse Community Center every thursday, from 3:30 – 7 p.m.
In the spring of 2014 we officially changed our name to “Rock Solid Teen Center,” as we would like to see our vision expand beyond the greater Syracuse area.
In the winter of 2015 we moved to the Wawasee High School cafeteria. We were grateful for the use of space, but we needed a location with more storage and designated space. We met at All Saints Episcapol Church and later, Wawasee Baptist Church. Numbers continued to decline in Syracuse, as a good location plays a key role in attracting youth to attend. Our Syracuse affiliate closed due the the COVID-19 shutdown and has not reopenned. It is the conclusion of the Board that a one-day-a week program in a church facility is not a viable approach. Rock Solid Teen Centers need to meet weekdays in a facility with designated space.
In the fall of 2019 we completed renovations of our North Manchester location. The building is ownd by the town, and the Fire House Committee assists us in paying utilities by raising funds renting out the facility. Although not an exact model of our generic teen center, it’s very similar and has all the components of our generic design:
Numbers were low at first, but picked up quckly once school started. As with all businesses, organizations and churches, we’ve had to deal with forced closures. Nevertheless, business has picked up again and is back to pre-shutdown highs.