HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Rachel Rutledge says there is a void in Huntsville. She admits while there are plenty of organizations providing programs to benefit at-risk youth in the community, most of them go dark on the weekends -- a time when many teens are left to their own devices.
So Rutledge is on a mission to establish The BRIC (building relationships in community)-- a place for area teens to hangout -- and not just on weeknights.
"It's a teen destination with a stage for concerts, a coffee bar, free wi-fi and video gaming welcoming all teens -- the average and the at-risk -- because if you're a teen today, you are at risk.
Rutledge, mother of teens herself, says the idea has been in the works for years and was borne of her own experiences and hardships as a teenager. Rutledge says she can relate to the challenges young people face.
"With the drug and alcohol culture, social media pressures -- this is a place where teens can come and relax and unwind and be encouraged."
Rutledge wants to provide mentoring opportunities to teens in addition to a safe place to be. She hopes area business leaders and entrepreneurs could offer insight and encouragement to participating teenagers.
The BRIC directors plan to model their facility after Rocketown in Nashville. The 44,000 square foot venue was built 20 years ago in downtown Nashville by Michael W. Smith in response to the Columbine massacre. Rocketown, which sees over 1,000 teens a week, features 4 concert venues and even an indoor skatepark.
Of course before they can dream that big, The BRIC needs a permanent venue.
"We've been working on a business plan, working on nonprofit status, and while doing that we've a couple of town hall meetings with some civic leader, community leaders and individuals and we've decided to start having BRIC pop-up events."
The first BRIC event to raise awareness and identity is scheduled for October 25 on Northside Square in downtown Huntsville from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The free block party will feature Toby Mac drummer B. Haley as well as Charley Cain Band and the Cains Trio.
Before Rutledge and her team can begin encouraging teens, they need help. Rutledge has started a gofundme campaign for The BRIC and its mission. Those who want to help can donate or visit The BRIC website for more information.