YST Coffee House Open Saturdays for Teens
Elton John might have thought Saturday night’s alright for fighting, but most parents would prefer a safer option for their teenagers at the end of the week. While those of us who grew up in Tulsa may be nostalgic for the days of cruising the “Restless Ribbon” and stopping for a piece of Black Bottom Pie at Pennington’s Drive-In, today’s hyper-connected generation of young Tulsans is likely to demand a little more from their weekend. Fortunately, Youth Services of Tulsa’s Coffee House, at 3rd and S. Madison, offers an alternative.
“Our focus is really creating a fun, safe space for middle and high school students throughout the year, so that they have something healthy and fun to do on Saturday nights,” Victoria Wiener, Coffee House coordinator, said in a recent interview. The Coffee House is open Saturday nights from 7-11 p.m. “We do a variety of activities…We have live musicians who come in and play. We have a lot of high school bands who will come in and play. It’s a place they can launch themselves and get their friends to come and listen.”
Recent performers have included popular high school bands The Lukewarm and The Bully Breeds.
Entertainment at the Coffee House isn’t limited to music. There are also monthly movie nights – The Adventures of Milo and Otis and Homeward Bound are scheduled for July 12 – and game nights, as well. The “Pop-Up Players Improv” theater group is a Coffee House regular, too. There’s even an Open Mic Night for aspiring songwriters, poets and dancers. Free Wi-Fi, coffee, and cappuccino (donated by QuikTrip) add to the draw.
“We always have a main attraction for the Coffee House,” Wiener explained, “but we also have a ping pong table set up. We have some video games. We have board games, art supplies and those types of things, just so there is something for everyone to do every single week.”
Wiener estimates average weekly attendance at around 35 kids. “We have a number of youth who will come on a very regular basis…When we have bands come in, they’ll bring their friends and sometimes their friends will continue coming after that.”
Wiener is there every week, along with her youth coordinator. She also has volunteers that help serve coffee and sell additional snacks and soda. “Mainly our volunteers are a group of college students and graduate students…Some of them were coming to this program as youth, and as they aged out of it, they decided they wanted to come back and volunteer.”
Youth Services of Tulsa provides a wide range of support for the city’s younger citizens, including free and reduced-cost counseling for teenagers, safe sex and pregnancy prevention programming, and juvenile delinquency prevention programs. Information is available at the Coffee House.
“Oftentimes we’ll go sit at a table and just be doodling on a piece of paper and one of the youth will come sit down next to me,” Wiener commented. “We’ll strike up a conversation, and they’ll start asking me about the programs at Youth Services. I can connect them that way. We’ll also hand out pamphlets with information and our cards…so that youth have avenues into getting the resources they need.”
For more information on the Coffee House and other services provided by Youth Services of Tulsa, visit the website at www.yst.org.