Peeking out from beyond the front door lies a space with bright green and white walls with musical instruments lining the interior. There’s a living room filled with cozy egg chairs and a flat screen TV as well as book shelves full of an assortment of games and books.
This large and expansive space is home to the new Sojourners Resiliency Center location, 5 N. Shafer St., welcoming guests to sit down and enjoy the various programs and services offered.
The recent opening of the Resiliency Center location stems from Sojourners Care Network, a nonprofit organization based out of McArthur. Focused on empowering at-risk youth in Appalachian Ohio, Sojourners provides individuals with programs that address topics like mental illness, homelessness, poverty and illiteracy.
Like its branch sister, the new Sojourners Resiliency Center in Athens has a variety of objectives and goals for the new drop in center space.
Opening its physical doors Monday, Nov. 8, the Sojourners Resiliency Center has been in service since October 2020.
The process of renovation has been rocky since it first opened.
It has experienced floods twice since the space opened due to a broken storm drain on Shafer Street. Just this past July, the center experienced its second flood, resulting in having to rip up and replace all the flooring. Along with floods, the pandemic also halted in-person programs.
After experiencing many setbacks, it installed water-resistant flooring in August and finally opened up the space to community members.
“It has been stop-and-go just because of the nature of the building and the world we live in, like COVID,” Madeline Kramer, recruitment coordinator for the Resiliency Center, said. “Now that things are a little more under control and better handled, hopefully we’ll be able to keep going and not be like stop-and-close.”
With the space completely renovated, the center started offering regular drop-in hours and a variety of in-person programs for at-risk youth and other individuals to participate in.
Some of the latest programs include a zine workshop happening every Monday and a vegan and herbal medicine cooking class on Tuesdays. This past week, the Resiliency Center had its grand opening kick-off with the Zine Workshop hosted by Seed Minkin.
“I feel really passionate about working with young people through the context of mentorship or through the context of an art workshop,” Minkin said. “When I heard about the Resiliency Center and how they are dealing with at-risk teens and young adults in the region, it seemed like a really great space.”
The idea for Minkin to host a program sparked after Minkin went to Sojourners’ recent Skate Jam fundraiser and met event organizer Charlie Milter.
In hopes for the future, Minkin wants to collaborate with the Resiliency Center on some life skills workshops, including outdoor programs that would involve field trips, gardening and nature skills.
In addition to the zine workshop, the center has plans for many other programs to start up soon, including yoga classes, a book club, a creative writing workshop and a professional developmental program. It also has daily tutoring available in a variety of different subjects, with some of the tutors coming from Ohio University.
Besides programs, the center also offers services for anyone to utilize, including showers, a food pantry, laundry machines and free WiFi.
Previously, the Resiliency Center hosted Lunchbox Fridays in which community members were welcome to hot showers and were able to fill a grocery bag with needed food items.
Andrea Baird, director of the Resiliency Center, said she hopes to bring back the Lunchbox program and that everyone is welcome to the services the center offers.
“Anybody is welcome to message us or give us a call. Even if it’s off hours, we can usually work something out,” Baird said. “Typically, the Resiliency Center … we serve youth like 14 to 21, specifically, but the drop-in aspect where the community can access our essentials or the WiFi, the hot showers — that is to any community member.”
Kramer said along with the programs and services, the space is also a place where at-risk youth and community members can just relax and enjoy themselves.
“The idea for the Resiliency Center is to be a safe place for at-risk youth to come after school,” Kramer said. “If they want to participate in the programs, they can, but they can also just sit here and do homework or play on their phone. It doesn’t have to be this structured environment. Hopefully, we have a lot of community members in general utilizing the space for itself.”