Lents ‘Teen Room’ gets big upgrade

Take a look, and you’ll now why members of the Wattles Boys & Girls Club are so excited …

Inside the Wattles Boys & Girls Club, here in the Lents neighborhood, teenage members are about to see the new space renovated for their enjoyment.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Teen members at the Lents-based Wattles Boys & Girls Club got a big surprise when volunteers unveiled their newly-refurbished Teen Center on November 4.

After school, about 50 kids, from 12 through 18 of age, queued in the main part of the building, outside the area where volunteers had covered the windows and doors with paper.

Outside the door to the Teen Center, kids eagerly await their opportunity to go in and check out their refurbished rooms.

“This started two days ago, when about 25 Aaron’s employees came here re-painted the center, installing new electronics and appliances and moving in new furniture,” beamed NW Freedom (operating as Aaron’s) Chief Operating Officer Josh Loisel.

Of course, the furnishings were from local Aaron’s stores, of which there are 35 independently owned and operated locations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, Loisel told East Portland News.

At the appointed moment, teens rush in to their new Center.

As 4:00 p.m. hour neared, which was the chosen time the center was to reopen, Loisel said, “The best part will be watching the kids, when they run in and see this for the first time.

“The joy on their faces is awesome; it melts your heart,” Loisel added.

Aaron’s regional manager, Josh Loisel, is quickly surrounded by happy teens showing their appreciation.

“Aaron’s is mostly known for monthly affordable payments on appliance, electronics, and furniture,” Loisel said. “This is our community; this is our home, and our customers are parents of children who come here.

“This was a need that was brought to our attention, so we filled it,” explained Loisel.

The party is on, as kids begin enjoying the new Teen Center.

What make this project unique, he remarked, is that the teens in the center designed the space themselves. “We sat down with them a month and a half ago, and brainstormed with them – and they came up with all the ideas of what they wanted in here, and what it should look like,” said Loisel.

Some of the funding came from the Aaron’s corporate office. “The extra money helped us refurnish the Teen Room to be even bigger and better than we could have accomplished on our own.”

Checking out the “study” in the new Teen Center is Waddles Boys and Girls Club Director of Youth Programs Katy Hunter, and Boys and Girls Club’s Portland Metro Marketing Communications Coordinator Kelsey Kuhnhausen.

The club’s Director of Youth Programs, Katy Hunter, was all smiles, as she marveled at the space’s transformation. “The tables in part of the Teen Room are more conducive doing homework. And, it’s really important for teens to have of a place for them, of their own, away from the little kids.

“They love having their own space, and now feel a sense of importance, now that they have a space away from the little ones.”

Arleta School students Alexa, Quili, Arleta, and Shaydee smile as they relax in the new Teen Center.

© 2016 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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