Clipped From Delaware County Daily Times
SOMEPLACE FOR YOUNG TO RELAX " 1 ' / Church Youth Centers Leave Programs Up to Young By KATHY BEGLEY Daily Times Staff Writer They're called "The Spot" and "The Place" and they're designed specifically to give, young people somewhere to go and relax. • Although each non-profit center is aided by a Delaware County Church — one Roman "Catholic, the other Lutheran — both are completely .'nonsectarian and open to Residents of neighboring com-• com-• munities. "The Spot," located in a former photography shop at 9th and Crosby Sts., Chester, is designed for persons 18 and ' older and offers a unique, coffee-house coffee-house atmosphere. "The Place," is aimed at the L • younger set of high school age and is located in the parish house of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 927 S. Providence Road, Nether Providence. Each center is guided by a Clergyman who believes the youths themselves should be free to plan any programs they wish. Rev. James C. McCusker, assistant pastor at St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church, Chester, said he and a number of young people got the idea for the meeting place "mutually." He said the plan took spark because it was evident the people in the 18 to 21 age group "didn't have any place to go." "The Spot" is open from 9 p.m. to midnight each Friday and Saturday for a nominal membership and admission fee, which includes refreshments. Father McCusker said the response has been good so far although they "were frozen out" during recent winter weekends. He said members are renting the building "and we're trying to organize a 240 Boosters' Club to keep it going." The idea of the Boosters' Club, he said, would be to obtain financial support for the center from community and business leaders. So far, "The Spot" has featured various folk groups, including student groups from Fitzgerald Mercy Hospital School of Nursing, Darby, and Villanova University, Radnor. The programs are designed By a 12 - member planning committee, headed by Barbara Harron of Chester and Joseph Matlock of Brookhaven. Holy Trinity Pastor Rev. John M. Scherch said "The Place" represents "an attempt to give teen-agers a place of their own." Open from 8 to 11 p.m. each Saturday, the center has facilities for "just sitting and talking'* or dancing, playing ping-pong and cards. "We gave them a time and a place and some adults in case they need them, then said 'other than that, it's yours'," Mr. Scherch said. He gave the same reason as Father McCusker for helping to organize the center. "There was no place where they could just go." At "The Place," Mr. Scherch said, a teen-ager can say, " 'If 1 just want to come in, I'll come in. Or if I just want to look at girls, I'll look at the girls. Or if I want to study, I'll study*." Mr. Scherch said he thought of Starting such a center when he noticed many young people are reluctant to become involved in church - related youth programs. "Many of them thought, 'well, if I come to church, I'll have to do something religious'," he said. Mr. Scherch said he approached his church board with plans for "The Place'' and the members agreed it seemed like a worthwhile venture. "My congregation is being so open to them their insides are almost showing," he said. Mr. Scherch said at present, there is no admission charge or membership fee to attertd "The Place." He said youths have to pay regular prices if they wish a soda from a machine and participants may decide later to charge a nominal admission fee. "But it would only be about 10 cents, or at the very most, 25 cents," he said. Mr. Scherch said the only restriction set up "is that the kids be in ninth, 10th, 11th or 12th grades. After that, their interests change and we really couldn'.t accommodate these interests." He said the youths are planning with "ad hoc'» committees at present. Father McCusker is direttbf of St. Michael's Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) and serves as chaplain to students at Notre Dame High School, Upper Providence. Fluent in Spanish, he also was appointed chaplain to the Puerto Rican residents of Chester and area by the Philadelphia Roman Catholic Archdiocese. Mr. Scherch, who assumed duties as Trinity Lutheran pastor in 1964, is a former YMCA aide and is married and has several children. But clergymen indicated there is a possibility "The Spot" and "The Place" can be open more often and offer additional programs if the response?,, is good.