The Garage is a community and youth-center based in Kennett Square and West Grove, Pa. It was founded by Michael Miller and Michael Bontrager, a youth pastor and a local businessman, who saw a need for a program to serve youth in the community.
The Garage specifically focuses on middle school and high school students, as there are already several programs in the community that focus on elementary school students.
Within a week, The Garage helps 75-100 students per center, so 150-200 students total.
They encourage WCU students and other volunteers to get involved. Volunteers who are over 18 must have their educational clearances and background checks done.
Volunteers should contact Diane Bove at firstname.lastname@example.org for Kennett Square or Murphy McCardle at email@example.com for West Grove.
Students who are not interested in being tutors can also volunteer as mentors, working one-on-one with students.
They can also help with the boys and girls programming, work as chaperones at field trips and dances, and help with fundraising events.
Volunteers are asked to commit to at least one hour a week, according to Kristin Proto, Executive Director.
The “Boys and Girls Programming is focused on the relational aspects of our students’ lives. The purpose is for our students to get to know themselves better, their passions and strengths, while also exploring and discussing the difficult social concerns that they might be faced with. These programs focus on avoiding risky behaviors, such as experimenting with drugs and alcohol, as well as building up individual self-esteem and self awareness,” said Proto.
The Boys and Girls programs meet twice a month, with the Girls programming meeting on Tuesdays, and the Boys programming meeting on Thursdays at the Kennett Square Garage. They also meet on Fridays in West Grove.
The Garage has also formed the YoungMoms group. In 2011, it was formed to serve pregnant and parenting teen moms in Southern Chester County.
“At the time of its creation, The Garage has experienced a small number of our young, female students who had gotten pregnant and dropped out of school. We created YoungMoms to serve them, only to realize that there were many other young girls in the community experiencing a similar situation with almost no support at all,” said Proto.
The Garage also hosts two annual fundraisers. The spring fundraiser in 2016 will be a day of service that coordinates with Global Youth Day. There will be student teams that are serving at other local charities.
In December, they are also hosting a Holiday Auction fundraiser, with 80-90 items to be auctioned off. Tickets are on sale now for the auction and can be purchased at 2015garageholidayauction.eventbrite.com
Proto said, “We often hear from our volunteers that they get more out of volunteering than the students that they serve! Volunteering at The Garage is more than just coming in once and providing a service, it is about building a relationship with a young person and helping them to navigate life. Oftentimes our students are just in need of a listening ear or a wise solution to a problem. It is amazing the long-term impact that you can have on a young person’s life by committing to be a reliable and trustworthy force in their lives.”
Theresa Kelly is a fourth-year student majoring in English literature secondary education. She can be reached at TK780615@wcupa.edu.