MARYSVILLE — Sabrie and Steve Taylor’s children have grown up in Marysville.
Over the years, the parents have realized there are few free, safe places for teens to hang out at night, whether they just want to get out of the house or have no place to go.
The two decided to start a drop-in center for young people, where they can get hair cuts, eat dinner, play games and relax. It will open for the first time 7 p.m. Saturday at the Marysville Boys & Girls Club, and is set to continue every week.
“It’s just about creating that safe environment to get them off the streets,” Sabrie Taylor said. “I would like to have a drop-in center every day of the week, but right now three hours on a Saturday night, that’s where we’ll start and I’m super excited.”
The program is called Love D.on’t J.udge. The name is a tribute to the Taylors’ son, DeJohn “DJ” Ward. He died by suicide in 2015 at the age of 19.
This kind of idea is something DJ would have come up with himself, Steve Taylor said.
“This is DJ,” he said. “He would be the kid who would go beyond and above for others. He’s quick to help, he wants to make a change. That’s exactly why we are doing this. This is right up his alley.”
The Taylors came up with the concept soon after DJ passed away, but needed time to heal. They began to think about it more seriously two years ago.
The couple brought their plan to the Marysville Boys & Girls Club last month. They chose the location because their three kids spent much of their childhoods there, including daughters Oshinaye, 19, and Veronika Taylor, 17.
“At one time there was a mural in one of the rooms that my son painted,” Sabrie Taylor said.
The Taylors thought it would take some time to get going, but instead were approved right away.
“After that we just started to push forward,” Sabrie Taylor said.
They’ve been working with a big group of friends. Some run their own nonprofits and are able to share what they’ve learned. Others are there for support.
So far they’ve made fliers, created an email address and webpage, and booked barbers and caterers. They hope to bring in more volunteers.
The drop-in center is expected to be open every Saturday from now on. It’s starting out as a sort of trial period, but may grow in time.
Sabrie Taylor hopes when the program becomes more established they can take the teens to the movies or camping, “to really get them out of their element and let them see there is something more than running the streets,” she said.
She and Steve Taylor want the center to be a place where the kids feel comfortable and are safe from judgment.
Everyone is welcome, they agreed.
“If I get five kids in there who come and have fun, and maybe out of that five one of them changes their path that night, hey, we are on a good roll,” Steve Taylor said.
Young people can stop by Love D.on’t J.udge from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturdays at the Marysville Boys & Girls Club, 1010 Beach Ave.
Those who would like to help can call 425-773-8003 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Volunteers are needed, and donations are accepted through Pay Pal — to send money, search for the phone number and email address above.