Dear Van Wert community,
With the year 2018 drawing to a close, we would just like to let you know how big our God is!
In February 2018, we celebrated the first anniversary of opening the center to the public! Since then, we have been steadily increasing our awareness in the area. We have attended Van Wert’s Parent/Teacher conferences, and spoken to many area businesses, organizations and individuals about who we are and what the
Portal has to offer. Our attendance has been growing steadily and we see a great mix of familiar and new faces every week.
We continue to host small events such as Nerf Wars, Karaoke Nights, Indoor Snowball fights and Summer Hot Dog picnics! We have also added a couple of new features to the Portal such as a crafting space with loads of donated supplies, and we upgraded our snack bar to a cafe and prize bar with tons of awesome gifts and prizes the teens can spend their Portal Credits on! Portal credits can be purchased or earned through various means such as helping clean up, good grades, and even finding our good friend Perry the Platypus! Portal Credits can only be spent at the Portal and have become a way for parents to protect their teens funds, as well as a great way for them to earn extra snacks, drinks and prizes.
Thanks to a $10,000.00 grant from the State of Ohio back in October 2017 and a thrifty budget, we have been able to cover our expenses throughout this entire year! God is so amazing! Over the summer, we had a minor setback with the cancelation of our concession stand fundraiser due to weather. Even though we were blessed with the grant money, we knew it wasn’t going to last forever and we were hoping to get a jump start on the funding we would need once the grant ran out. Unfortunately, with the great news of the grant receipt, individual giving had decreased, possibly assuming we were well taken care of financially. We continue working to build partnerships with area businesses, churches and individuals in hope that they will see the value in what the Portal 2:20 Teen Center brings to our community.
With the weather cooling off and the school year resuming, the teens who had spent the summer enjoying the new skate park and splash pad, are once again enjoying our facility. Our attendance is growing as they continue to get to know us and invite their friends to check us out! Family games are often the most requested activity, and our volunteers enjoy lots of fun and laughter with the teens.
In October last year, we introduced our Halloween attraction fundraiser known as “Blackout”. We designed a scary walk into total darkness with the idea that the fear was all in your mind. As John 1:5 says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”, God calls us to be His light into the dark places. Blackout is used as a metaphor for those dark places in the hearts and minds of people, and we as believers are called to be the light of Christ and shine into those dark places. This year, we decided to change directions and offer a new event that wasn’t considered scary, or dark. After months of planning, the Blackout Escape Room was revealed! Everyone who attempted the elaborate live-action puzzle game had a blast! Although we were able to raise $400 for the center, we still need to raise more funds.
In November, we were honored to learn that our organization had been nominated for the Charitable Non-Profit Award at this year’s Salute to Small Business Banquet with the Van Wert Chamber of Commerce! We attended a wonderful luncheon at Willow Bend Country Club, and although we didn’t win, we are very thankful for the recognition it has given our organization.
As we finish off the year, the teens were able to enjoy a family style potluck dinner with friends at our second annual “Charlie Brown Thanksgiving”. We had lots of food, and enjoyed sitting all together at one table (complete with tablecloths and centerpieces) and give thanks for our many blessings throughout the year. The teens put up and decorated our Christmas tree, and we ended the year with a celebration of Jesus and gifts for all!
In closing, I would like to thank you all for your prayers and support for the Portal 2:20 Teen Center throughout the year. Your kindness, generosity and willingness to share the love of Christ through our ministry has touched the lives of many students in our community, as well as their parents! We look forward to what God has in store for us in 2019!