Fri, Dec. 06

A place of their own<br><i>Camp Verde youth get new teen center</i>

Staff photo by Carol Keefer

A NEW teen center is now open in Middle Verde.

He said that teens will even rename it, currently known as, The Boys and Girls Club of Middle Verde.

"It’s the biggest thing we’re seeking; that they restake ownership in the club," he said.

Located in Middle Verde at the Yavapai-Apache Nation’s administrative site on Datsi Drive, the new youth activity space is inside a well-kept, doublewide trailer, the former home of the Montessori School.

Recreation Director Gary Lollman said that he has been providing services for preteens for the past seven years, but saw a need for continued teen activity, initiating the idea.

"Generally Girls and Boys Clubs are not on reservations," Quasula explained. "We formed a partnership with the youth recreational program (under Lollman). They wanted to do something with youngsters as they grew older. They wanted a place for teens to hang out."

The chief of police at the Yavapai-Apache Nation, Everett Little Whiteman, was behind negotiations to get the Boys and Girls’ Club involved.

"I’ve been in law enforcement a good many years. It’s not just about arresting people," Whiteman said. "We try to handle programs, particularly with younger people, that will benefit them and their families, primarily to keep them in school and out of drugs. The Boys and Girls Club is well know for their services and exists throughout the United States.

"We started working on a weed-and-seed project under the Department of Justice. We, and a task force created by the tribal chairman, have been working on it for the past year and half. Our goal is to identify problems and find solutions, primarily toward drugs, alcohol and domestic abuse. A Boys and Girls Club is one of many options we are introducing."

There is no membership fee to join, and the center is open to all teens in the community, Native American and otherwise. Hours are Monday through Friday, 2-6 p.m., and will be expanded starting Feb. 13 to include Friday and Saturday nights, 6-10 p.m.

"The tribe is taking care of the physical facility and all associated costs and additional supervision needs," explained Lollman.

The Boys and Girls Club applied for a grant to get started for the first year to pay for salary and equipment. Funding is made possible through the Boys and Girls Clubs of American who raises money through fundraisers and federal grants. Quasula said he is currently seeking additional funding for an after-school homework program for pre-teens and teens also.

There will be grand opening of the new teen center in April when the senior vice president of Boys and Girls Club, Robbie Calloway, appears as speaker. Nine tribes throughout Arizona and Nevada are also expected to attend to learn more about how to start Boys and Girls Clubs in their communities.

The Nation has offered to do provide some cultural activities for young people, noted Quasula, who encourages others to get involved as well.

"If anything in the community has things to offer for teens, please let us know. We welcome outside ideas and volunteers," he said.

Quasula has been with the Boys and Girls for three years at a Prescott Valley branch, is married and has a brand new baby girl.

To learn more about the new teen center or to discuss transportation needs, call 567-1078.

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