Mukilteo Teen Lounge back for 2018-19 school year

Opens back up tomorrow at 2 p.m.
By Brandon Gustafson | Sep 26, 2018
Photo by: Brandon Gustafson Pointe of Grace Lutheran Church (5425 Harbour Pointe Blvd.) is hosting the Mukilteo Teen Lounge for the 2018-19 school year. This is the third year the lounge has been operating.

The Mukilteo Teen Lounge is back and operating this week for the third-straight school year.

The lounge, located at Pointe of Grace Lutheran Church (5425 Harbour Pointe Blvd.) is open to Mukilteo School District students between 12 and 18 years old every Thursday (except Nov. 1, Thanksgiving, and other holiday breaks) for the remainder of the 2018-19 school year from 2 to 5 p.m. Last year, the lounge was open on Wednesdays.

The lounge was started February of 2017 as a safe place for Mukilteo students to congregate after school.

It opened Feb. 15, 2017, after some Kamiak students voiced wanting a safe space to hang out after school. Pointe of Grace’s ministry committee worked with the Mukilteo Youth Coalition to start the Mukilteo Teen Lounge, which has its own special room at the church.

Laura Crawford, a Mukilteo resident who is also a volunteer minister for Pointe of Grace, helps organize and advise at the lounge.

Although the lounge is located at Pointe of Grace, Crawford wanted to make it clear that it is open to everybody, and that people are welcome to come and go as they please.

“We are the venue, and are one of the sponsors, but it’s not a Pointe of Grace Lutheran Church Youth Group,” Crawford said. “The kids are so diverse. All genders, sexualities, races, ethnicities, and so on are welcome to come. It’s for anyone 12 to 18 years old.”

Crawford took over coordinating the lounge last September, after the founders stepped down, and said it’s like a second home to her.

“I love the lounge. It’s a cool place because you can totally just hang out,” she said. “We don’t provide counseling. That’s not what this is. People play board games, do homework, sit and talk.”

Crawford said one of the more pleasant sights she’s seen is the leadership of the older kids. “They’re really open and embracing to the new kids. They’re really friendly,” she said. “The older kids are taking the younger ones under their wing. Older ones are helping the younger ones with homework without any sort of prompting.”

The lounge averages about 30 kids each week, Crawford said, but the hope is they’ll see more new faces this year.

Local community businesses have helped, Crawford said, with food vendors like Papa Murphy’s, MOD Pizza, Jersey Mike’s, and Starbucks donating food on various weeks.

Crawford said those sponsors, as well as volunteer supervisors, are her biggest help in operating the lounge.

“We have incredible adult volunteers,” she said. “I wouldn’t even use the verb ‘supervised.’ It’s a really nice mix (of teens and supervisors) where they’re being watched without us hovering around.”

Crawford shared her appreciation for Pointe of Grace’s pastors, John and Joan Beck, for their support.

“We’re blessed with our pastors. They float in and out, and they’re there for anyone who wants support,” she said.

Crawford said Joan Beck led a discussion on Black Lives Matter last year, and that both John and Joan did a piece on divorce and blended families. A woman from Snohomish County also talked to some of the teens about driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

“All of that is voluntary for the kids,” Crawford said. “They don’t have to participate if they don’t want to. We take it to another room. The blended families’ piece was at the request of a survey done by the kids.”

The Becks are extremely proud of the lounge and are excited to see it back for a third year.

“I've been happy to see the Teen Lounge attendance grow throughout the year last year, showing that the teens value this respite in their weeks,” Joan Beck said. “We at the Teen Lounge are starting this new school year on a new day of the week with eager anticipation about the warm and caring contributions the lounge will make to our community's wellness.”

John Beck said the church is happy to have the lounge, and that there has been tremendous community support.

“It is a form of our sharing and caring outreach that utilizes our building, involves many volunteers from the church, as well as from the wider community, and is financially supported by generous donations,” he said. “Those come from members and the wider community.”

He said his background was in youth work, and he loves to see how the church, the lounge, and the community have worked together in such a short time.

“I am thrilled to see this marvelous church and community cooperative adventure moving forward with such energy,” John Beck said. “I couldn't have imagined that two years later we would have so much to celebrate.”

Both John and Joan raved about the work Crawford is doing.

“Laura is the linchpin. It is amazing to see the way she involves a wider and wider circle of youth and adults,” John Beck said.

“Laura has catalyzed a wonderful cadre of volunteers, including herself, to support the teens,” Joan Beck said.

Crawford said one of the most rewarding days last year was on Valentine’s Day, when the Parkland, Florida, shooting occurred, and an ACES High School student was arrested for threats of violence against the school.

“We had at least two parents leave from Seattle and come straight to the lounge,” she said. “They told me they felt OK since their kids were there. I felt so affirmed that we had that place for their kids to go to.”

Crawford said the lounge is always looking for additional volunteers or donations, which are tax-deductible, and that those interested in either should contact Pointe of Grace.

Crawford said people frequently ask her if she talks to the kids about God, but that instead she talks to God about the kids.

“By providing a loving and safe space, we’re talking to God all the time,” Crawford said. “We’re just not saying his name.”

 

 

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