In Focus: The Shop Provides Teenagers A Safe And Comfortable Place To Go When Not At School
Located on Washington Avenue is a unique, green building called The Shop.
“The Shop is a drop-in youth center for teenagers and young adults, and everyday is a little bit different around here,” said Cindy Moore, The Shop Founder and Executive Director.
The Shop was established in the Summer of 2010 and provides a home for area teenagers where they can feel welcome and safe during their time spent out of school.
“Youth Wellness Initiative got together with all the youth-serving organizations and said there really isn’t a place for young people in our community,” explained Moore.
The Shop was originally located in downtown Brainerd but moved to Washington Avenue to be more convenient and easy to find. Besides being a safe space to hangout, The Shop provides a variety of programs.
“We do a lot of activities, crafts. Just in the past week we made candles and blankets,” said The Shop board member Anna Pflepsen.
“We just finished up our Girls Who Code semester. We are involved in service to community projects and those are projects where we go out and do some stuff in the community,” Moore explained.
One of their programs is called “Rainbow Road,” which meets once a week and offers a safe space for members or allies of the LGBTQ community.
“We do movie nights and different things like that for the LGBTQ youth in our community – just for those who don’t have the support system at home,” said Isabel Bundy, The Shop board member and founder of Rainbow Road.
“It helps me be in a more of a safer place where I can be myself instead of having to be hidden,” added The Shop member Sam Menk.
The Shop provides a much needed service in the Brainerd Lakes Area which does not have a Boys and Girls Club or typical youth center.
“We are unique in the Brainerd community in that we are a space where loitering is a welcome activity. Kids can come in, teenagers, young adults can come in and we can help them with different things,” explained Moore. “We can be their guides. We can be their mentors.”
“A lot of youth in smaller towns don’t have much to do, and they can get involved in bad things if they don’t have that sense of community. So with The Shop and through Rainbow Road, they can find those people to connect to and talk to,” added Bundy.
The Shop is a simple concept, but it has made a great impact on the kids that attend.
“To see young people that come through the program and not talk to anybody, sit in a corner, and after they’re here for like a year or so, all of the sudden they’re taking part, they’re becoming engaged,” said Moore.
“It’s a good place to get out who you are and make friends,” said Menk. “Because life is a lot better with friends.”
The Shop has a fundraiser coming up in February where they will be putting on a “Rock of Ages.” More information will be released in the new year.