After a couple of months of renovations, the Northfield Union of Youth is back in its main space.
A ribbon-cutting was held Tuesday to mark the end of renovations which included updating the building’s kitchen to ensure it is up to code. While renovations were underway, The Key youth center has been leasing space at 200 Division St. in a building owned by Carleton College.
There is now an office for one-on-one conversations, and the renovations are expected to allow volunteers to have a more complete view of who is in the building. The Union of Youth wrote a grant so a washer and dryer can be installed.
Northfield rising senior Chase Ingraham said he is “really happy about” the remodeled space.
“Mostly what I’m most excited about is for more art to be moving in, for the kids to make it their own again,” he said.
To him, the new layout is more open, something he appreciates. He spoke of the difference the Union of Youth has made on his life and his belief that it provides an empowering format for youth.
“The biggest factor that this place has played in my life, the biggest influence it’s had on me, is just my ability to kind of act for myself and kind of be in control,” he said.
Renovations were made possible after the Northfield Union of Youth was given a $20,000 Northfield Rotary Big Idea grant. The organization has also received in-kind labor, equipment donations from Keith Pumper Plumbing & Heating Inc., Schulz Electric Inc. and Northfield Construction Co. Lampert Lumber has given the Union of Youth a large donation for the kitchen.
Northfield Union of Youth Executive Director Emily Fulton-Foley thanked community partners for their work in the process. To her, consistency is key, for the public to know that it is open for youth 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
The Youth Center typically hosts between 30 to 40 people daily and served approximately 300 unique individuals in 2018. It is primarily staffed by Promise Fellows, a Community Action Center staff member, an arts coordinator and youth staffers.
The Northfield Union of Youth has a number of programs and services under its purview, including mental health, academics and housing.
The Youth Center allows anyone ages 13 to 20 to visit. It has commandments for its members, including that they not be under the influence of alcohol or other substances, not use hate speech, respect staff and do not fight.
To Isabella Callery, the facility provides stability.
“Having our kids in a building is really important,” she said. “Our temporary building was beautiful and amazing and perfect, but this is a spot where the kids have been comfortable.”