DECATUR, Ala. – A firehouse that once helped protect the community around 3rd Street in Decatur has a renewed purpose as a sanctuary for teens.
“We’ve been wanting this for a long time. We’ve been wanting our own space,” said Temperance Ricks, a member of the Boys and Girls Club.
13-year-old Ricks lives in the neighborhood and is just one of many teens that can come to ‘The Station’ to play games, do homework, and plan for their futures. All from the safety of their own neighborhood, thanks to the Boys and Girls Club.
“We like to set up in the heart of the community. We want to be an anchor in the community. We want to be a member of the community. So kids know they have somebody they can trust,” said Patrick Wynn, the President of the Boys and Girls Club of North Alabama.
The renovation of The Station cost upwards of $100,000. The firehouse doors themselves totaled more than $20,000. But price tags don’t always matter here.
“In this world, we live in today, when kids live in certain neighborhoods they have to put on a certain persona that isn’t them. A lot of times kids are not allowed to be kids. We try to create an environment where they can take the mask off, the persona off and they can come and just be young people,” said Wynn.
Boys and Girls Club of America CEO, Jim Clark was on hand and says this isn’t just a safe place to play video games and socialize.
“That’s not all that happens here. This is where they are going to learn how to get into the workforce. Perhaps get a job. They are going to learn about financial management,” said Clark.
The facility also has a STEM lab.
This will be the 8th Teen Center for Advancement to open in communities across North Alabama.
For their hard work, the North Alabama branch of the Boys and Girls Club was awarded a $20,000 grant from their National leadership for programming as well as scholarship money for their students.
The Station still looks and feels like a firehouse. The Boys and Girls Club said they wanted to pay respect to the firefighters who served here decades ago.