Millennial mortgage lender Elana Karoly wanted to give back. Now she hopes the community will help her and Escondido’s new teen center to grow. A 501©3 tax-deductible non-profit, Go2Grow needs $2,000 a month to survive past March.
After fundraising benefits and drives, the group has about 15 percent of the funds it needs to survive. The goal is to enroll 100 kids in the mentoring and beyond-school programs. That would pave the way for continued efforts going forward.
“We don’t want kids to just go through life,” Karoly said on a recent tour of the new teen center. “We want them to grow through life. We want to make a difference for kids, especially when they didn’t have a place to go.”
Local Boys & Girls club programs only extend through Age 12, or so, leaving a community gap for a safe, interesting and fun place for teens to hang, chill and be themselves. Go2Grow opened for business on Nov. 7 at 157 E. Valley parkway #103. The entrance is around the corner at Kalmia Street. Hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday or by special arrangement.
Movie nights and professional mentoring, resume workshops and etiquette for jobs and homes, Go2Grow Teen Center is designed to keep the kids entertained, active and learning without the pressure. It’s major goal is life coaching for teens working with youth to set goals, grow and lay the groundwork for success.
The center has six volunteer mentors, all specially trained and Millennials ages 22 to 32, “one generation above” so they are close enough in ages to the kids to have a closer impact, according to Karoly, 26, who began working with teens at age 22 as an AmeriCorps volunteer.
Center partner Peter Gray trains mentors as well so they can be most effective. Other professionals also spend time with kids to acquaint them with their professional experiences and occupations. “”We find people in the community to share experiences,” Karoly said.
“The goal is to help teens build a passion for a career path they pick,” Karoly said, “even if they have to pick a few to get on the right one. Our mentors hope to inspire and motivate our students to pursue their dreams. Go2Grow’s teen center is providing students a safe place to grow themselves, alongside their friends.”
Currently, the program encourage parents to sign kids up as drop-ins for $15 a month. Becoming one of the first 100 members entails a $10 a month membership. That allows the kids to join in the fun and explore their ever-emerging world.
“We want to get a bigger center, maybe 5,000-square-feet some day,” Karoly said. “But this is a good start. I’ve been networking over the last few years and held five fundraisers to get started. Now we have a physical location.”
In a nutshell:
• High School Planning
•Job Shadow Opportunities
•One-on- One Mentoring
Teen Center Features:
•Large Multi-purpose Activity Room
•Pool Tables & Foosball Table
•TV, Games, etc.
•$25 a month for enrollment in our one-on-one mentorship career counseling program and unlimited use of of the teen center.
•$15 a month for unlimited use of the teen center.
•$10 a month to become a Virtual Impact Partner to help support our efforts in providing this resource to the community. Sign up at www.go2grow.net/vip!
For more information call (949) 419-4196 or visit http://www.go2grow.net.