CHIMACUM — With the teenagers away on Spring Break, Rotarians are taking over their place this week.
Joining with supporters of all stripes, these volunteers are turning the Jefferson Teen Center sky blue and sage green for a new season.
“It’s time for me to be a worker bee,” said Peter Ewing, a new member of the Rotary Club of Port Townsend, as he dipped his roller into the pan of paint.
Ewing, 77, added that he’s raised teenagers, and he doesn’t mind serving the current generation.
After it closed last year due to the pandemic, the Jefferson Teen Center on the Chimacum High School campus at 91 West Valley Road is open again. Director Shayann Hoffer-Pauley and staffer Alex Eisenberg welcome all middle and high school students in the community, whether they attend classes on campus or not.
The center follows the school district’s COVID protocols including masking, temperature checks and social distancing, Hoffer-Pauley noted.
Open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, the teen center’s hours align with the Chimacum School District’s class and bus schedule.
Students must have a parental consent form, available at the center and downloadable at jeffersonteencenter.org. For information, phone 360-302-5939.
Her mission is “to provide a safe space for kids to come after school, where they can be themselves, learn new things and have opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have,” such as working on a new mural this spring, meeting friends and trying out the center’s new guitars and ukuleles.
The center, which is the size of two classrooms, has game tables, puzzles and, as Eisenberg develops it, a library full of teen-relevant books.
A grant from the Rotary Club of East Jefferson County funded computers and furniture two years ago; everything is rearranged to let students spread out, Hoffer-Pauley said.
Outdoor activities — hula hooping, games of catch — happen out on the grass.
“Any way we can physically be together safely is a plus,” she said.
“I think these kids are super-resilient. We have a lot to learn from them.”
In the upcoming mural project, teens will have a chance to work with Becky Taylor, a professional artist who serves on the center’s board.
There are also conversations about field trips, more outdoor pursuits and, one day, a summer program.
At the same time, “we really hope to bring in more of a tutoring aspect to the teen center. Online learning is not easy for everyone. We want to fill that gap,” Hoffer-Pauley said, adding there’s space too for art and music to nourish the right and the left sides of the brain.
The center’s $30,000 budget for the academic year is funded by a mix of foundation grants and donations from local people, the director added.
The two local Rotary Clubs; the Norcliffe, Medina and Seattle foundations; United Good Neighbors and the Jefferson Community Foundation all have supported this venture.
So have Crossroads Music, Port Townsend newcomers Craig and Val Stewart of the Apex Foundation, and an anonymous man who gave the center a brand-new acoustic guitar.
“People amaze me,” Hoffer-Pauley said.
She has another hope for the young people who come to the center, that they will connect with their peers and be reminded they’re not alone in coping with 2021.
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]