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Teen center to close its doors

July 31, 2012

Photo by Gian DeLoia – The River Community Teen Center Director Bill Braley and his wife Kristen are in need of partnerships to continues its vision in a new location.

Due to a lack of funding and community support The River, a faith-based community teen center, at 20 Gillis Ave. in Ridgway will be closing its doors after four years of service to the community.
Teen Center Director Bill Braley and his wife Kristen have been with The River since its inception.
"We have been doing The River and launching this ministry for about four years now and it's been a progression," said Bill Braley. "We have been continually building upon building and moving in a certain direction. My heart and my passion and where we are going and what we believe in is that a community really has what it takes to turn the tide of a youth culture by moving them in a more positive direction then they are going and we demonstrated this.
"We have got [The River] to a certain place which we are so grateful for here because it wasn't us. It was a handful of people that behind the scenes came together. We had no money to do any of this. We didn't have any of the resources. This used to be like a factory building with corrugated steel walls. It had no electricity, it had no plumbing, no bathrooms, no walls and one step at a time we just kept plowing forward. We paid the bills, we built the ministry and we showed it and we demonstrated this prototype ministry."
Although The River will be leaving Ridgway, Braley plans to move the organization to an undetermined location in southern Maine by 2013 to continue its mission and bring it to the "next level."
As the The River began to decline in community support and funding it reached a threshold where it was unable to sustain its services.
Braley said in order to bring the Center to the "next level" and achieve his vision at its future location it would need a greater level of funding than what it was collecting at its location in Ridgway.
"At this level in order for the community to be effective and successfully impact the young people, the community would have to come together and work together," Braley said. "Everything that happened up to this was handfuls of people that were pouring their life into doing this until it finally came to that place to go to that next level."
According to Braley, The River will need about $20,000 per month to bring it to the level where it can present a motivational speaker, contemporary bands and show high impact movies and dramas every Friday to its audience.
"We have a presentation that we have been giving to people in the community to gain sponsors or partnership to be able to actually carry out 2013 and people were relatively positive and they said yes they needed this and things like it but it never really materialized the way it needed to," Braley said.
Braley said his realization came to fruition after posting comments on Facebook seeking feedback as to what direction The River should take.
"We put it out there one more time on Facebook just to do a trial test to see really what was the vote in the town," Braley said. "To see if they really believed it and wanted to head in this direction and it was hard for us to watch because the response that we got came from outside of here. We had responses from India and other states but there was very little from this area which we had spent years showing this and showing this here.
"There's more to this than financial backing because finances are just one thing, but what we really need to know and that was kind of a way to find out if they were really behind it and so when push came to shove and we got to that place the response was overwhelmingly no."
For more information on the partnership plan contact Teen Center Director Bill Braley at 814-389-5927 or to make a donation address contributions at 20 Gillis Ave., Ridgway, PA 15853.
Upcoming events include Movie Night on Friday, Aug. 3 "Facing the Giants." Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free; Youth Rally on Friday, Aug. 10 at 6:30 p.m., sponsored by Women's Aglo; and a Huge Moving Sale from Aug. 16-18 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
"We love the people here and if it wasn't for the people of this area this would have never gotten to this point," Braley said.

Pick up a copy of the Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.

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