The center, which is brings a message of hope and purpose to area youth, has been an important part of the Elk County community.
In its four years, the center has hosted events, featuring celebrities, bands, dramatic companies and motivational speakers. All guests typically have a positive faith-based message.
The center was started four years ago by Bill and Kristen Braley, who are formerly of Maine.
Bill Braley said he has a background in teaching youth ministry. He’s currently a chaplain at the local prison.
Braley family members said a few years ago, they were called upon to bring a center to the community.
Bill Braley said when their family moved here, they had nothing.
“This happened for one, by miracles from God. We had no money, no resources and I didn’t have a clue on modeling a building,” said Braley.
That’s when the community stepped in.
The Braley’s said residents donated money and even windows to help change an industrial building into a teen center.
“It’s somewhere I’d go to when I needed to feel loved or when I didn’t feel loved,” said 19-year-old Ron Beimel.
“It’s a place where I can come and be myself when I feel like nobody else wants to accept me,” said 13-year-old Hannah Braley.
The Braley’s admit it is upsetting that they have to close the center, but it is just the beginning of a new chapter in their mission of helping area teens.
“It really takes the heart of a community to say that we can do this. We want to do it together and we want to see lives change,” said Bill Braley.
The Braley family said it would take a miracle to continue its teen center in Ridgway.
They plan on moving to Maine in a few weeks with hopes of starting a similar facility for teens in that region.
“We’re not going to just sit back and allow drugs and alcohol to own our young people. We’re not going to allow someone else or some other influence to direct the steps of the future. We’re going to take it together and we’re going to invest in it like we have,” said Bill Braley.