The development of The Nunda Youth Center has been a long journey, but if its list of activities is any indication, the decade-long wait to make it off the ground seems to have paid off.


The concept for the center was born from Jackie Baylor and others in 1998 who wanted to see a Christian youth center in the area.


Baylor “was the inspiration behind the dream,” Youth Center board of directors’ interim chairman Ben Beardsley explained.

The development of The Nunda Youth Center has been a long journey, but if its list of activities is any indication, the decade-long wait to make it off the ground seems to have paid off.


The concept for the center was born from Jackie Baylor and others in 1998 who wanted to see a Christian youth center in the area.


Baylor “was the inspiration behind the dream,” Youth Center board of directors’ interim chairman Ben Beardsley explained.


It was at that time, “that the seed was sown.”


From that time until 2005, volunteers worked to develop an unoccupied space in Nunda’s Seating Inc. on North State Street. But the finances to complete the makeover just wasn’t there. When the youth center hit a snag with a $10,000 sewer line that had to be installed and shortly thereafter the resignation of Baylor, the center  went on a two-year hiatus.


No activities, with the exception of some indoor skateboarding, had taken place there during the time of the renovations.


Then, in 2007, youth center leaders started looking elsewhere for space. That’s when the former Doughboys Pizza parlor became available next door to what is now the Nunda Police Department.


With Baylor’s connections to Twin Tiers Youth For Christ (YFC) in Wellsville from 1998 to 2005, the Nunda Youth Center opened as a branch of the YFC in September 2008.


The youth center is open Monday through Friday from 2:30 to 5 p.m. (except for days when there is no school or half-days) with at least two adult chaperones overseeing an average of nearly a dozen teens, many of whom walk just a block to the center from school.


Chaperones work on a volunteer basis, and must fill out an application that includes a statement of faith and lists references.


In order to work during the hours the center is open, many chaperones are either retired, work night shifts or have flexible work schedules. Beardsley noted that the center is looking for available chaperones.


The center has no formal programs on a day-to-day basis, but is mostly available at that time as a teen hangout.


Students come there to play Wii, ping-pong, cards, do some homework or just socialize.


Chaperones find it a great opportunity to talk with kids about a variety of subjects such as saving money, homework help or about faith or the Bible.


The youth center leaves formal Christian teaching, such as Bible studies, to the churches, Beardsley noted, who is also a youth pastor for Oakland Wesleyan Church. Fellow board member and chaperone Frank Simone is also a local youth pastor.


The two often encourage the teens to attend a church that is nearest, or perhaps best-fitting for them.


Among its other services, the Nunda Youth Center takes its teens (as well as anyone else who wants to come) to bi-monthly Houghton Gym Nights at Houghton College, as well as a local gym night at Hunt Baptist Church held on the opposite months of Houghton’s gym nights or when Houghton has to cancel.


As a way to give back to the community, the center has sponsored a Little League team – which Beardsley and Simone coach; is open Monday nights for “Clean and Free” – a service for adults who have addictions; has opened its doors for CPR?classes for the Red Cross; and occasionally holds “Fifth Quarter” – a pizza party after school sports games in which everyone is invited; and conducts gift wrapping during Christmas in Nunda.


In order to touch base with the community and its many donors, the center tries to put out a quarterly newsletter, has a website and a Facebook page. Their board meetings and meeting minutes are made public.


The Youth Center is supported by donations from individuals, businesses and organizations. About half of its $700 per-month expenses are supported by area churches.


The center’s six-member board is in the process of looking for an executive director who can help move the center forward. Even without a paid director, the center has been “running smoothly for people who have full plates,”?Simone said.


“We have a bunch of ideas that we’d like to go forward with,”?Simone also said. “We’ll see how things progress. At this point, things are working out great.”