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The Outlet Youth Center Gives Youngsters Clubs, Events and More

Writer / Lois Tomaszewski
Photography Provided

The Northern Indiana Community Foundation (NICF) and several partners are taking steps to ensure that the future is bright for the youth in Fulton County. Their efforts and donors in the community are addressing what was determined to be a community priority by opening a new youth center.Outlet Youth Center

To accomplish this, a building that formerly housed a winery, brewery, and cheese-making facility called Schnabeltier is being renovated to become the Outlet Youth Center. The building was donated by RapidView LLC. Supporting the youth center was not a one-and-done decision, says Hannah Bahney, marketing and communications coordinator for the NICF. The company previously supported the youth center at its original downtown location.

At a meeting with Kris Robison, Rex Robison and Matt Sutton of RapidView, the NICF members expressed the need for a more suitable location for the existing youth center, due to building conditions. The youth center and the NICF members were considering finding another building that would serve the youth of the county. A week later, Kris called with the offer of donating Schnabeltier. That donation included the building, furniture, lawn mower and other amenities, Bahney says.

“With a new space comes new challenges,” says Taylor Showley, the Outlet Youth Center’s assistant director. “We are currently working to make this building conducive to what we will use it for. Our community contractors have been wonderful to work with, but our to-do list is not quite done.”

A door, windows and a new security system were added to the building before it was open to students. Showley says the to-do list still includes carpeting for the office, new flooring in the art and STEM room, updated decor for all spaces, and a new coat of paint in the main student space.

In a press release from the NICF announcing the gift, Kris Robison, partner and chief financial officer for RapidView, said, “We always viewed Schnabeltier as a way to give back to the community, and it only seemed right that we could use this building to help support and expand the important work that the Outlet Youth Center is doing.”

Outlet Youth CenterThe Outlet provides a service that was not available in Fulton County previously. Local youth did not have a dependable and safe place to use – one that provided clubs, activities and positive interactions with adults. This new space expands the activities to include indoor as well as outdoor space, to engage preteen and teenage youth, Bahney says.

“Fulton County never had programming or a space like the youth center offers,” she says. “While the county has a fantastic library, it became very crowded after school as students sought a dependable space to gather. In a county needs assessment, youth services were listed at the top for needs.”

The Outlet Youth Center is located on 2.2 acres of land on Apache Drive in Rochester. The building is more than 10,000 square feet. The RapidView donation takes away the financial burden of paying for rent and maintenance at the former location.

“The community foundation helped facilitate the gift by being the initial recipient of the property before transferring it to the Youth Center,” explains NICF Director of Development Brian Johnson. “The donors wanted to ensure that the gift will always be used for charitable purposes. Included in the gift is a contingency that if the youth center closes or moves from the location in the next 10 years, the building will revert to the community foundation and be used to make grants for community needs.”

Showley says the community can still be a part of this project, as there is more work to do. Support can come from financial donations, or volunteering for offerings like the After School Program or the Preschool Book Club.

“We also are in constant need of tutors to help students with their homework,” Showley says. “We even could use volunteers to come pick up the recycling.”Outlet Youth Center

To volunteer, call 574-223-5437 or email outletyouthcenter@gmail.com. Financial contributions can be made online at theoutletyouthcenter.org. Checks can be mailed to: P.O. Box 286, Rochester, IN 46975.

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