By Amy Daybert Herald Writer
LAKE STEVENS — DJ Rabe doesn’t skateboard. Neither does his wife or their three children.
But he’s starting to learn the names of some teenagers in the city who do and is hopeful he’ll know even more of them once The House Teen Center opens.
Gone are the piles of drywall, old tools, plywood and layers of dust that once were inside the 12,000-square-foot warehouse building on Old Hartford Road. The rented space now includes a weight room, game tables, a performance stage with a 200-inch projector screen, a computer station and a 5,000-square-foot indoor skate park.
“All I really want to do is provide a place for kids to come and hang out,” Rabe said. “I’ve done community forums with teens and asked them what can we do as a community for (them) and everyone says, ‘We need a place.’ ”
A former Snohomish Boys &Girls Club volunteer and employee, Rabe, 38, and his wife Dottie, began organizing skate competitions for teenagers at the skate park in the Averill Youth Complex in Snohomish in the spring of 2007. The couple enjoyed helping kids and, in September that year, started a church that met at the Boys &Girls Club.
As a pastor, Rabe and other members of The House Worship Center talked about opening a teen center for kids during after-school hours. Last summer, they decided the location on Old Hartford Road was a good spot for the teen center.
Shortly after, Rabe and other volunteers got to work, cleaning out the building and moving in the skate park, donated computers, furniture, cabinets and game tables. The House Teen Center started attracting interest from local teenagers, who wanted to see the center officially open.
Rabe expects the center will be ready to open in March. In the meantime, teenagers routinely volunteer for anything that needs to be done to keep the center clean and ready for opening day.
Patrick Fobian, 17, helped build the indoor skate park and volunteers at the center whenever he can. He’s looking forward to opening day.
“It’s a nice place for teens to come hang out,” he said. “Honestly, there’s really nothing to do in this town besides go to the lake in the summer, so when it’s cold outside they can come here.”
The center is a fun and safe environment for teenagers, said Baylee Rabe, 14, the Rabes’ daughter. Her friend, Alex Jebelli, agreed.
“Even if you can’t skate, it’s a fun place to be,” Jebelli, 17, said. “It’s something to look forward to after school.”
Funds raised for the center will go toward operational costs and programs for teenagers. While some people can give financial support, Rabe said, others have offered to volunteer their time by teaching music lessons or physical fitness classes at the center.
Both are necessary to sustain the center, he said.
“Right now, I’m inviting people to come and take a look,” he said. “What I really believe is if people see this place, they will want to invest in this place.”
The House Teen Center will be a free place for teens to be with adult supervision, Rabe added. Teens who use the skate park will pay a minimal monthly fee and have the option of joining a skate team that focuses on skating and performing community service.
“I want this to be a place where all kids can come, but there will be a standard here,” he said. “We just ask that they respect one another, respect the property, the leadership and themselves.”
Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491, email@example.com.
The House Teen Center is located at 3316 Old Hartford Road, Lake Stevens. For more information and updates, go to http://thehousetc.com.