Sometimes it seems like forever and a day when you are impatiently waiting for something to arrive! It’s hard to believe that the Portal 2:20 Teen Center has been in the making now for 3 years! 2016 has been spent focused on the finalization of becoming a stand-alone non-profit organization and also on renovating what was once a garage space into an inviting, fun and safe teen space. The students attending Vantage Career Center’s Building and Grounds program lead by Instructor Mr. Dave DeLano and Assisted by Ms. Brenda Wurst have been the hands and feet of the renovation projects at the Portal. Without them, the projects would have taken us significantly longer and cost us much more than we could have afforded! From January through May, The students did everything from spray-painting the ceiling a matte black, to painting the walls an “Amazing Gray” (Sherwin Williams color 7044, look it up!). They also designed and built an incredible platform and divider wall to be used as a stage for various performances, and help frame in our gaming area with half-walls and benches for seating.
As summer began to approach, members of our community began to take notice of our efforts. Kingsley UMC hosted a pancake and sausage breakfast fundraiser for us in May that earned us over $600 in donations, as well as new friends and connections in the community. From there the press began to notice and we were blessed with a front page story in the Times Bulletin paper about our mission and passion for the teen center. In June, we made our first Parade appearance during the Peony festival, and even though it rained, the teens and I had a blast! We even made a few folks laugh at the crazy dancing dinosaur. ;)
Over the summer, our application to the IRS for tax exempt status had finally been approved, and just in time for our concession stand fundraiser at Fountain Park during the summer concert music series with the man whom I have affectionately named the “Fiddler on the Roof”. It was so much fun spending time with the Pokémon Hunters that evening! With all the free leftover ice cream, who wouldn’t want to stop and say hi?
When fall approached, my faith began to waiver. Sometimes itstough not having all the answers. And when people would ask when we were planning to open, I didn’t have an answer for them. The original goal had been May 4th, 2016- but that blew by in a heartbeat because things take longer than you would think. The follow up plan of opening in the fall was looking like a long-shot as well. There was still so much to do, and not enough funding to do any of it. So we waited for God to move. “Be Still and Know”. And then God spoke and lifted a very expensive burden from us. It was time to move forward again.
Then in October, a local artist came and hand painted a beautiful galactic portal on our garage door to become the backdrop to our logo and name… and it is amazing! Little things were being accomplished. Acoustic panels were hung inside, electrical lines were still being installed and soon, a donated sound system was in place! We just needed to trust in God’s timing- not ours.
By the time December came, our electrical had been completed; lighting and furniture had been installed and set up. We still didn’t feel “ready”, as we still have quite a few things left to do, but we decided to hold an open house anyway and share the vision for the Portal with people in our community. The press was amazing and we had yet another front page story. Over Christmas break, we were able to have a teen night and share the space with a few teens connected with a couple area youth groups. It was a blast! We are so close to opening; we are now just trusting in God to cover our monthly expenses!
Throughout the year, donations from people like you were arriving at just the right time. We would need more lumber to build, or have a bill for insurance to pay and somehow a check would arrive in the mail just in the nick of time! Everything at the Portal has happened because you listened to the still small voice that nudged you to think of us. You may not realize it, but you have been an answer to prayer!
I would like to personally thank each and every one of you who have given generously from the heart to help build the ministry at the Portal 2:20 Teen Center. No gift was too small. We appreciate you more than you may realize! Together, your contributions totaled roughly $11,000.00 in 2016 and have provided us the opportunity to build the foundation of our ministry. Your continued support will help us become another light in the dark places, and reach those who are hurting, broken, beat down and without hope. Thank you for not giving up on them.
“But forget all that- It’s nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?” (Isaiah 43: 18-19)
Love in Christ,
Executive Director, Portal 2:20 Teen Center, Inc.
108b Zimmerman Ave.
Van Wert, OH 45891