CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Hope Siler and Margo Friend have a space, a network of agencies ready to help and a mission to change the lives of young people.
Now, all they need are the teenagers.
"A lot of kids that we are reaching are kids that are scared to come," said Friend, the Adolescent Health Initiative director for United Way of Central West Virginia. "We've given information to a lot of folks that are counselors and therapists who are just ecstatic. We haven't had the ecstatic kids yet 'cause they're just a little shy and scared about it."
Friend and Siler, the regional director for ASPEN, a young suicide prevention agency, are the coordinators of the Center, a youth center that recently opened in a space at Asbury United Methodist Church in Charleston.
The youth center is a joint effort from several partners: the Adolescent Health Initiative, ASPEN, the church, the Contemporary Youth Arts Company, Covenant House, Daymark and WV Bully-FREE.
The women envision the Center as a safe space for young people to hang out -- free from bullying and the other pressures of being a modern-day teenager.
"Any young person today is going through all kinds of stuff we didn't go through," Friend said. "[Young people are] facing so much pressure today and we want to be a place that doesn't put pressure on them."
The youth center will have basic ground rules - no bullying or violence, drugs, tobacco or alcohol - but they want the teenagers to decide what they want for the space and what activities they'll do.
Friend and Siler can plan dances or open mic nights if they want, for instance.