A dream for many families in Mesquite is about to happen.
It is also a dream that Dennis and Michaela Lee have had for years.
“We have been wanting to do this for years, but it finally started coming together three years ago,” said Dennis Lee. “This town has a lot to offer the youth and the youth has a lot to offer this town. We need to connect the two.”
And with that, DaySprings Ranch Youth Center will officially open on Friday, April 7.
Coinciding with the schools’ spring break schedule, a grand opening party is scheduled from 4 – 8 p.m. at 211 First South St. Suite A, behind Ace Hardware. The center is in the same building as Lee’s Living Waters Fellowship, however the two are not connected in any way. There will be live music as well as a free barbecue cooked by the Mesquite Firefighters Association and door prizes available.
“The youth, regardless of their faith, are all welcome to come and hang out as much as they want,” Lee said. “We want the DaySprings Ranch Youth Center to be a place where the kids want to hang out and know that they are safe.”
The space in Suite A will comfortably fit everything that Lee has envisioned and more, according to what the youth wants to see happen. Right now, there are two foosball tables, an air hockey table as well as a pool table and ping pong table. Lee has pleaded with the community seeking a second pool table, to avoid any potential conflicts with activity choices. Add those to the board and card games, and the center will offer more than enough choices for any teen who stops in to relax and hang out with their friends. Oh, and not to mention, there will also be free Wi-Fi access thanks to Reliance Connects.
“Our goal is to get them off of the street and somewhere safe,” Lee said.
He has plans for a kitchen area where there will be free food and drinks for those who patron the center. Karaoke nights, pizza nights and other events will also be planned. There will also be gaming systems to be available for those who are into that, with a nice cozy area to relax in.
Lee has also suggested that he wants to work with Mesquite Works, which is right down the street, to help teach the youth some soft, yet essential, skills that will enable them to successfully get their first job. Since Mesquite Works is limited to those aged 16 and over, Lee will be able to start helping those younger than that get ahead of the curve. The DaySprings Youth Center will also work with the middle and high schools to supplement several of their programs. Students from Virgin Valley High School’s art classes will be invited to paint a mural on a portion of the interior walls.
“We want the youth to have as much input as possible,” Lee said. “They need to want to be here, and getting their ideas and thoughts will ensure that happens.”
Initially, the center will be open to youth ages 13 to 17 or 18. Operating hours will vary based upon the volunteer base that Lee is able to recruit. Ideally, he would need two to three people per four-hour shift to guarantee that the student to supervisor ratio is realistic. “Ideally we need about 40 volunteers,” Lee said. “Everyone will have to go through a background check and be vetted, but once that is done we can start moving on to the next phase.
Plans for phase one are to be open on Fridays and Saturdays from 6 – 10 p.m. As his volunteer base grows, phase two will include Mondays to Saturdays from 2 – 6 p.m. so that the students have a place to go right after school. The final third phase would potentially be Mondays through Saturdays from 2 – 10 p.m. “We are a work in process,” he said. “We will change things as we need to, and the kids will dictate that by their activity.
Tables, chairs and other basic necessities have been donated already by local churches, businesses and defunct groups that no longer used them. Last week, Lee was presented with a check from the Exchange Club of Mesquite for $2,000 to help with their initial cost. “We are definitely going to be relying on donations for this project. So many have already come forward to help, and we are grateful for that,” he said. “We will be striving to receive grants and funding from corporations as well. This is for the youth and as a community, we must come together for the youth. They are our future.”
Anyone who may want to donate their gently used games and materials that might be feasible for the center are urged to call Lee as soon as possible at 702-427-3854. The DaySprings Ranch Youth Center is a nonprofit 501c3, so all donations should be tax deductible. Lee said eventually, it would ideal to have a center for the high schoolers and another for the middle school aged youth. “The possibilities are endless,” he said. “It’s hard to say just what all we will have to offer here.”