The Red Barn Youth Center, the Key Peninsula’s one and only after school place for kids to get together and connect in a safe, fun location, recently celebrated its one-year anniversary with a “Raise the Roof” fundraiser. The event featured live music by Rokkerbox, barbecue from JT Barbecue, and a variety of family activities.

According to Red Barn Executive Director Laura Condon, the money that was raised will go toward creation of a multi-purpose room that will also serve as a gymnasium.

“Our mission is just to provide kids on the KP with a safe place to go after school,”Condon said.

The facility is open every day after school during the school year. “When school is open, we’re open. We follow the school schedule,”she said. “We’re open Monday through Friday, 2:30 –6 p.m.”

This month, while parent-teacher conferences take place at Key Peninsula Middle School, the Barn will open at 10:30 a.m.

All middle- and high school kids are welcome and there’s no charge for the activities, she said.

“Just in our first year we have had such an awesome turnout of kids,”Condon said. “The response has been great. Some days we have 30 kids.”

While the good weather continues there are plenty of outdoor activities such as gardening, basketball, soccer, baseball and volleyball on the new sand volleyball court.

Indoors, there are video games, board games and art supplies. “Two Waters Arts Alliances gives art classes once a week and the KP Library comes once a month and does a special project,”she said.

In the past, a guitar teacher has given lessons on a regular schedule, but right now Condon and her staff are looking for a new music teacher.

They’re also looking for other volunteers to help every day with basic supervision and other tasks.

“We really need adult volunteers,”Condon said. “We’re growing and we’re developing our eight-acre lands for outdoor games, so we really need more and more adult volunteers to be outdoor supervisors.”

There’s also a big need for volunteers to help the kids with homework during study time.

“The very first thing kids do when they come here is spend 30-40 minutes in a structured homework setting. We need volunteers for that right now,”she said.

Anyone over 18 years of age can be an adult volunteer. High school volunteers need to be at least 16 years old. And all volunteers must pass a background check.

Because the Red Barn is a nonprofit organization, “we can’t afford to hire staff, so we have to have volunteers because we need to have adult supervision,”she said.

There’s also a need for food donations, because after school snacks are provided for the kids every day.

Although they fell short of their fundraising goal at the Raise the Roof party, Condon said the event brought the community together and increased awareness of the Red Barn’s financial and volunteer needs. “I think we really got our message across that it’s truly a community effort,”she said.

The group has a Facebook page and has also set up a Go Fund Me account on their website, where there’s also a list of upcoming activities and information on how to volunteer and how to make donations.

Visit redbarnkp.org for information.

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