Park Ridge Teen Center to close April 30
Teens play pool at the Park Ridge Teen Center in 2010. The center says it's closing at the end of April after 31 years. | Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 15, 2013 6:34AM
PARK RIDGE — Three years after losing a major funding source, the Park Ridge Teen Center is slated to shut its doors this spring.
Kate Kerin, a member of the Teen Center’s board of directors, said the center, located in the basement of First United Methodist Church of Park Ridge, 418 W. Touhy Ave., will close April 30.
“The closure is due to the loss of funding from the city of Park Ridge, the Teen Center’s largest funding source since its inception in 1982,” a statement released by the Board of Directors said. “Despite valiant fundraising efforts on behalf of our board, staff and supporters, we have not been able to secure consistent and reliable funding.”
In the spring of 2010, the Park Ridge City Council, by sustaining Mayor David Schmidt’s veto, ended government funding to the Teen Center, as well as several other community organizations. That year, the center had been slated to receive $22,000 from the city, roughly half of its annual budget.
“Since the inception of the Teen Center, the city of Park Ridge was our main funding source,” Kerin said.
Open on Friday and Saturday nights from 7 to 11 p.m., the Teen Center offers local adolescents a place to play games, watch movies and socialize under adult supervision. Members do not need to be Park Ridge residents and many come from the nearby Edison Park neighborhood in Chicago and attend Taft High School.
Supervisor Kathy Johnson said the kids were upset to hear about the pending closure.
“It give the kids a place to go in the evening so they’re not out there on the street,” she said. “It’s a place where they can meet their friends. It gives them a sense of belonging.”
Johnson said during the summer months the Teen Center averages “anywhere from 30 to 40 kids a night.” Around prom and homecoming the girls will stop by to show off their new dresses, she added.
On March 8, a group of Taft High School students were gathered at the center before taking off to an Uptown restaurant to find more of their friends.
“My friends from Taft always invited me,” said Lexus Szadkowski, who began coming to the Teen Center last year. “I’m so sad.”
“I’m gonna miss this place. I’ve been going here for four years and I don’t want to leave,” said Bridget Barnett of Chicago.
The space used by the Teen Center is donated by First United Methodist Church and members pay $1 each night they drop in. The center was launched by members of the church.
The funding required by the Teen Center covers insurance costs, pay for the adult supervisors and the equipment the teens use.
In 2012 the Park Ridge Juniors, responding to the Teen Center’s financial troubles, selected the center as the recipient of proceeds from the charitable group’s fundraising efforts.
“That kept us afloat for an additional year, and we’re grateful for that,” Kerin said.
“We’re very disappointed it’s closing,” shared Park Ridge Juniors President Tina McNamee. “We’re happy that we did all we could to keep it going as long as possible.”
The Teen Center has also received donations through the Park Ridge Community Fund, other nonprofit groups, parents, community members and small fundraisers organized by teens.
“The need for our services is as strong as ever as evidenced by our consistent weekly attendance numbers,” the statement from the Teen Center Board read. “It is our hope that the Park Ridge community will recognize this need and new opportunities for our youth will be developed.”