By Laura Latzko, August 2015 Issue.
The one n ten youth center has many functions. It serves as a dance and music studio; a safe space to share personal experiences and stories, a classroom and learning center and a place to gain valuable job and life skills.
The youth center (located at 3660 N. Third St.) serves LGBT youth ages 14 to 24 from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. And, with an average of nearly 1,000 youth coming through the doors each year, the space – and everything it houses – has experienced wear and tear.
Throughout the month of June, the center underwent much-needed repairs and updates. This collaborative effort by one n ten staff, volunteers and youth culminated with a grand re-opening ceremony July 10.
“The planning for it started about a year ago,” said Gina Read, youth center program coordinator (previously a 15-year volunteer). “The youth, at that time, basically said what they would like to see and what would make them happier or things they needed.”
Pull Up A Chair
The biggest upgrade to the center has been the addition of new furniture. In the past, it has been furnished with donated items, which recently showed signs of wear.
“When we first moved in, we were a lot smaller, and almost everything we got in there was donated,” said Linda Elliott, one n ten executive director. “On this go around, we planned it out, what we would like to look it, and we budgeted some money this year for doing that. It’s a more thoughtful approach to how we furnished it.”
The front room now features sleek modern couches and low-slung chairs, which, according to Mike Schneider, youth center program coordinator, can accommodate up to 30 youth at once.
“We’ve finally gotten enough funds saved up so we [could] buy new furniture – furniture that will last; stuff that is nice and durable,” Schneider said. “Instead of taking the regular donation of somebody’s couch, we went out and bought commercial-grade waiting room furniture that looks nice.”
Other additions include new benches for the music room built by Ruben Gonzales from 11th Monk3y Industries. Plastic foldup tables have been replaced with state-of-the-art stainless steel tables as well as a coffee area with bistro tables. Other new additions include artwork, a flat-screen TV, rainbow-colored shag carpet and movable bookshelves that allow for more flexible use of the space.
Schneider, who helped out as the resident handy man – changing light fixtures, painting and other odd jobs throughout the process, said the changes have given the center a brighter, more welcoming feel.
“The youth are starting to get excited as they are starting to see [the center] change,” Read said. “I think we’re starting to see the kids are showing much more pride in the center because it is something they can be proud of.”
The Gift of Technology
In April, Cox Arizona announced it had donated $20,000 toward a new Cox Technology Centers for one n ten.
“Cox is committed to increasing the accessibility of technology for our community,” said Susan Anable, Vice President of Public Affairs, Cox Communications Southwest. “Collectively, we are working to ensure our community members are prepared to thrive in today’s digital world and excel in their future; it’s always exciting to see the direct results of our community giving at local nonprofits such as one n ten and The Phoenix Pride LGBT Center.”
The Cox technology grants, allowed one n ten to purchase computers, printers, office furnishings for its Q High program. Q High enables LGBTQ and straight allied students to earn their high school diploma in a safe and welcoming environment, in partnership with Arizona Virtual Academy.
“The Cox Technology Center provides our youth with tools that will enable them to more effectively take advantage of our high school diploma program,” Elliott said. “Because the curriculum is all online, up-to-date computer resources are critical to our Q High students’ success.”
The grant also funded the addition of KidTrax, a youth tracking software that will provide more accurate information on the youth the organization serves and the programs they access.
“KidTrax is a tool that will provide each youth with a scannable ID card and give us program, demographic, and attendance data,” Elliott said. “one n ten is proud to have Cox as a partner to support the life changing work we do with LGBTQ and allied youth.”
From its initial days as a small gathering that took place inside a residential basement off Third Street in the early ‘90s to the multi-faceted organization it is today, one n ten’s mission has continued to grown to meet the growing need of the youth it serves, whether that be the Promise of a New Day housing program, the Y.E.S. (Youth Empowerment Success), a one-on-one mentoring program, the addition of five satellite programs or any of the many other programs the nonprofit has incorporated throughout the course of its 23-year history.
“I think [the grand re-opening] shows the evolution of one n ten,” Read said. “We’ve come a long way.”