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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Downtown youth center set to open soon

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Remodeling is sometimes two steps forward and one back. Those working on The Den, above Mocha Jo's coffee shop in downtown Monett had a classic example of that recently. When primer paint had been placed on the second floor walls, volunteers moved in to add a second coat only to find the moist paint had caused the original paint to suddenly begin peeling off the wall. Brian Bouray, at left, and Gordon Brown, at right, added muscle power to prep the wall again for fresh paint. [Times Photo by Murray Bishoff]
Downtown Monett will soon see new life on its 400 block. Shortly after the expected June opening of Mocha Jo's Coffee Café on the ground floor of one Monett's historic buildings, a youth center called The Den will open its doors for area students on the floor above.

Renovations are well underway at 404 Broadway, and The Den hopes to be able to open its doors early in June. The youth center is intended to be safe place for kids to "hang out."

Board member Gerry Bounds said he and other concerned parents had been talking for some time about providing a place for school kids to go after school and on weekends to have fun and relax with adult supervision.

The Den will be open to area kids in the seventh through 12th grades. They will need to register at the youth center with their parents' contact information and phone numbers. People going to The Den will enter through Mocha Jo's Coffee Café, but once signed in upstairs, they will not be allowed to go back and forth between the youth center and the coffee shop, Bounds said.
The summer hours for The Den will be 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and 6 p.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays. The youth center will not be open on Wednesday nights or on Sundays to avoid possible conflicts with youth attending local churches or youth group activities.

The group's mission statement reads: "The Den is a Christian-based organization whose purpose is to provide the youth of the community a safe, positive and fun environment."

It is "not a Christian hang-out place" according to The Den's fundraising information. They add that it is a "hang-out place owned and operated by Christians who want kids to make positive 180 degree changes in their lives while providing them a fun and safe hang out place."
The board of the Monett Youth Center, a.k.a. The Den, are a neat mix of people, Bounds said. Bounds and Neal and Betty Messer are long-time friends, "our kids grew up together," he said, calling them the "older parents" on a board that also boasts "younger parents" and others. Explaining that "older parents" meant that their children had grown up and had children of their own, Bounds laughingly called himself and the Messers "young grandparents." All of the board members have one thing in common, "we care about kids," Bounds said.
Kelly Cloud, Mark and Lauren Holland, Ryan and Katie Mayhue, Neal and Betty Messer, Gordon Brown, Spencer and Ann Ellis, Amy Sampson, Gerry Bounds, Debbie Berger and Titus Fox make up The Den's board. They also have junior board members, Bounds said.
The junior board are eighth to 12th graders who have presented their ideas to the board from the youth perspective. The kids came up with the name, "The Den." Many years ago there was a place in Monett where kids used to hang out called the "Cubs Den." The current group does not want to exclude anyone from the surrounding towns so didn't want to use the "Cubs" reference, which would be just for Monett.
The Monett Chamber of Commerce Leadership has adopted The Den as its class project. Several members ot that group have come several times to work on the building. Both paid staff and volunteers are needed at The Den. There will be a volunteer meeting at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 22 at Grant's in Monett. Anyone interested in volunteering should attend the meeting. All volunteers will have to pass a background check, which will cost $9 through the State of Missouri.
Lacy Bounds has been hired as The Den's summer director. Gerry Bounds was not involved in the hiring decision of his daughter, he said. Lacy is majoring in psychology and youth ministries at Ozark Christian College and has worked with teens for several years. Currently, she works with youth at Monett's Countryside Christian Church.
Bob and Debbie Berger are providing the upstairs space for The Den and plan to share some of the profit from their coffee shop to help withutilities.

The Den committee has assembled a list of items they would like to see donated and and have begun their fundraising efforts to provide start-up costs and ongoing budget needs. They are calling it "Mission 180."

The stated goal of "Mission 180" is to find 180 businesses, groups, churches and/or individuals who will commit to supporting The Den on a monthly basis. These donors will be encouraged to pledge support of $15 a month or $180 a year with groups or individual pledges made by July 2009. Up to $10,000 of the money rasied through this fundraising drive will be matched by a local donor. The Den is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Some of the items The Den is looking for include: board games; furniture; electronic/TV equipment; video gaming related items; ping pong tables; a pool table; an air hockey table; sofas; chairs; and a refrigerator.
For more information, contact the Monett Youth Center (The Den) at 417-236-3640 or by e-mail at monettyouthcenter@yahoo.com.

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