It’s a typical Wednesday night at Main Street Roasters in downtown Nappanee. The business is busy with customers and among the faces are a group of teenagers. They’re members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County’s Nappanee Clubhouse.
Every week, they leave the Clubhouse, load into a van and head downtown to spend about an hour and a half at the coffee shop — eating, talking and playing games.
“In the fall, we wanted to create unique teen programming. We wanted to take them out of the building and allow them to practice social skills,” said Nappanee Area Director Mandy Gerber.
Main Street Roasters was already a Club supporter, providing supplies for a coffee bar inside the Teen Center at the Clubhouse so the location was a perfect choice.
“Community partners like Main Street Roasters are a huge blessing for us. They are huge supporters and promote the mission on a daily basis,” Gerber said.
Taking the teens outside the building has had benefits for the members, too.
“It’s more laid back. When you’re in school or at Club you tend to act a certain way. There, they can relax and be themselves,” said Teen Supervisor Michah Ridenour. “We have a dedicated crew that comes, and they really like it.”
The teens fit into the crowd at the coffee shop, taking over a corner of the upstairs landing to enjoy their food and drinks. They bring table games to help pass the time and strengthen their friendships.
“I think it’s nice because we get to spend time bonding together. It’s nice to get outside the Club and just hang out,” said teen member Raelyn Rowe.
“It’s a different environment, and sometimes it’s good to get out and go somewhere,” said teen member Kelsey Hamsher. “At Club, you feel like you have to act a certain way. At the coffee shop, it’s more free.”
Ridenour said it’s also good for the community to see Club members in public settings and help support a local business.
“It gets us out to visit our community partners. It’s nice that people get to see the Club outside the building.”
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