By Mindy Kepfield
McPHERSON—So much work has been done to reopen The Hangout, now the teen center just needs a few good people willing to give their time.
Danielle Black, co-pastor of MPNaz, would be happy to open once a month, but she needs to staff it.
“Right now, I don’t have enough volunteers,” Black said. “The more volunteers I can get, the more hours I have covered, the more I can open it.”
Black and her husband, Jeff, started The Hangout after hearing over and over again that McPherson needed a safe place for teenagers to have fun. The Blacks put in pool and ping pong tables, air hockey, video games and concessions in the basement of the church and opened it to teens once a month, before COVID-19 hit.
They used the time to add a small movie theater with a big screen and seats donated by an area Masonic lodge, new basketball and ski ball games, and glow-in-the-dark pool balls.
The McPherson Community Foundation gave The Hangout a $5,000 grant.
Black coated a hallway leading to the basement with pitch-dark paint, and teen volunteers used toothbrushes to splatter glow-in-the-dark acrylic to create a space-age look.
The Hangout has an application for volunteers on its website.
The teen center is looking for people who can give at least one weekend every four months, and volunteers will be trained to recognize child abuse and neglect, mental health, trauma, discipline and suicide prevention. Applicants will undergo a criminal background check.
Ideally, Black would like to get a roster of 20 to 50 to keep volunteers from being overburdened.
“That way they would not be working every single month,” she said.
The teen center also could use a hand with a few finishing touches. Handy people who don’t want to become regular volunteers can help by tackling a to-do list that includes installing cabinet locks, putting up shutters, painting and cleaning floors.
The Hangout also has a wish list of items they could use like paper towels, toilet paper, bulk bottles of water, bulk candy and chips, cans of pop, and hygiene products for the bathrooms.
In the meantime, Black cannot wait to welcome the city’s youth back to a space created for them.
“We just want a safe place kids can come and hang out and be themselves,” she said.