by Sarah F. Wimberley
The Garage & Community Youth Center was a 2022 Awardee of a $100,000 grant from Impact100 Philadelphia.
The Garage’s efforts encompass Academic, Learning, Vocational, Social-Emotional, and Advocacy programs. All programs provided at The Garage are developed to create an environment where teens feel safe and empowered; promote social and professional development; encourage youth to stay in school and to continue their studies after graduation; and promote positive self-esteem, civility, leadership, respect, and responsibility.
Through their belief that all youth have the capacity for great potential, the organization aims to equip Kennett Square and Avon Grove area middle and high school youth to define their own success. Empowered youth make wise decisions, have hope for their future, and will be prepared to be successful, balanced, healthy, and active members of their community.
In 2001, a local pastor and businessman saw the opportunity for a reclaimed car garage to serve a greater purpose than service vehicles. The Garage Community & Youth Center was born from his passion for serving the community and over two decades later, we continue to thrive in Kennett Square. This success launched the desire to open a second location to serve more youth in the surrounding communities in West Grove and Avondale Borough.
The Garage served a diverse group of sixth to twelfth-grade students comprising 79% Latinx, 3% African American, 1% Mixed race, 10% Caucasian, and 1% Asian. For 40% of our population, neither parent graduated high school and 85% of students are eligible to receive free and reduced lunch based on familial income. Many students come from single-parent and economically disadvantaged households, of which neither the mother nor the father is the primary caretaker. The students who come to The Garage face substantial struggles and are looking for support to navigate through complex issues such as domestic violence, dysfunctional homes, addiction, desire to drop out of school, self-mutilation, teen pregnancy, peer pressure related to drugs/alcohol/sex, language barriers, and peer/familial discouragement regarding academic achievement.
The Garage utilizes resources of talented staff, 120-plus volunteers, and an active community to master our craft in each unique area of our programming. Out of School Time programming offers after-school (and daytime hours during the summer) academic support. The Garage offers opportunities for community service where students can explore career options, learn about additional community resources, as well as create a habit of giving back to their local community. Enrichment and self-care programs allow students to focus on self-discovery including personal, intellectual, social, and emotional development as well as therapeutic tools to navigate complex emotions and feelings and form practical healthy relationship skills with oneself and others. The Garage also offers meals (5,938 served from July 2021 to June 2022) and advising for post-high school opportunities.
What’s new at The Garage
The Garage’s new Avondale location is a replacement for the Garage’s secondary facility in the West Grove Borough. While it is bittersweet to leave this space, they are excited to own a building and expand as an organization! This building, located at 121 Pennsylvania Avenue, Avondale, PA 19311 provides nearly four times more space for youth programs, food and meal distribution, adult education programs, workforce development programs, weekend recreational activities, and community meeting space. Their vision is to expand programs for the current Avon Grove School District middle and high school students, while also expanding social and community services for the families of their students and similar target population residents in Avondale and the surrounding community. Additionally, the building for purchase is the former Avondale Fire House, built in 1902. This historic space will be repaired and maintained as a Garage facility for many years to come!