Edwardsville Junior Service Center prepares for official rink opening


For Junior Service Club members Sarah Dawson, Laura Jenkins and Julie Schreiber, preparing the new RP Wood Center for the public is a lot more work than cutting a ribbon on opening day.

The new center, whose construction began in April 2021, is due to open on June 14 at 6 p.m.

“It’s been a long road of planning and preparation,” said Dawson, who is the club’s past chairman and one of the co-chairmen of the club’s Major Projects Committee. Jenkins and Schreiber also sit on the same committee.

One of the big pillars of this club has been fundraising for the center’s programming once the doors have opened. The club holds three main fundraisers each year – Brisket and Brews, Kidmania and Witches Night Out. There was also a specific 5K running event aimed at the teen center and six or seven dinner and donation events at restaurants such as Wang Gang and Chicken Salad Chick. Cumulatively, these events, last year and this year, have raised over $110,000 for the centre.

Jenkins said it was important to work with local teenagers in focus groups to find out what they wanted to see and what they would use it for. Additionally, Jenkins said he received a $3,000 GRIP grant from the Goshen Rotary Club, but no decision has been made on how to use it.

Both Dawson and Jenkins said there is a real need for teenagers to have somewhere to go after school, especially if they’re not at a club or on a sports team and their parents both work outside the home or are not otherwise at home.

JSC members met with City Parks Director Nate Tingley and his staff and had Zoom meetings with focus groups of students in 2021 on the teen center portion of the facility. The students told Dawson and his group that they wanted a place to hang out after school that should embody a cafe vibe and could be used as a place to study.

Currently, District 7 students can stay in high school for tutoring, testing or lab makeup, or detentions. According to school officials, if students aren’t driving, athletics, or in a club, they can’t stay in the building after they’re fired. On some occasions, this has caused other students to camp out at the nearby Starbucks or on Center Grove Road at Wendy’s while they wait for their parents to get off work.

JSC members knew they had to choose building materials that were durable and resistant to teenage users. Dawson said movie nights could be possible later and could be screened outside, if necessary.

Students voted on a name for the teen center and after several rounds, the finalist is “The Garage”, in part because of the three rolling doors that allow entry and exit.

“It was important for the teenagers to get involved or take ownership of the project,” she said.

The garage will be supervised, teen-focused, close to school and provide students with a safe space.

As well as a place to study or just hang out (especially in inclement weather or extreme temperatures), the center will offer services like tutoring and possibly CV writing. There will be a flat screen TV, WiFi, table football and possibly movie nights.

For those who need to concentrate, there will be a room with a door, a conference table, chairs and a projector for presentations.

Jenkins, who is also the club’s communications president, said there will be a rotating student art group on display at the center, encompassing various schools.

“I think it’s a great thing for our community,” Jenkins said.

The Junior Service Club of Edwardsville/Glen Carbon strives to foster volunteerism by developing the talents and interests of members through a variety of fundraising and philanthropic projects, while building valuable relationships.

Founded in 1938, they have benefited from generations of women who have served the community through community projects and by giving back to local organizations and individuals.

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