4 years, 10,000 Community Hours Later: ALUCC’S ‘The Buoy’ is Ready to Open
Three days of celebration set for opening of youth center.
The Avon Lake United Church of Christ (ALUCC), 32801 Electric Blvd., will celebrate the Grand Opening of its new youth center, The Buoy, (pronounced BOO-ee) with a week of events beginning Palm Sunday, March 24. Funded by anonymous gifts and made possible by more than 10,000 hours of volunteer labor, The Buoy will be home to all of the church’s youth ministry programs.
“Six years ago, in the spring of 2007, Avon Lake UCC expressed its commitment to youth ministry by hiring our first full-time director of youth ministries. The Rev. Dr. Kelly Brill, senior minister, said. “Nate Taylor is the most gifted youth director I have seen in my 30 years of ministry. He is both organized and mature -- which the parents appreciate -- and fun and crazy, which the students love.
“You will see Nate’s personality reflected in the building itself. He had a hand in several of the design elements.”
Immediately inside the handicapped-accessible front entrance is a large central gathering space filled with playful, creative touches. Two oversized lifeguard chairs built by ALUCC member Eric McManaman and his son, A.J., preside over a “sea” of enormous bean bag chairs. Each bean bag chair easily accommodates several sprawling teens. A color block mural with contemporary graphics covers an entire wall with the message: “Come in. Sit back. Relax & chill out with your Savior.”
Just off the large gathering space is a more intimate coffee shop area where teens can congregate at bistro tables for conversation and music, while a craft room provides a place to encourage creativity. A game room in the basement is decorated with a contemporary mural of “The Last Supper” and the United Church of Christ’s guiding motto: “God is Still Speaking,” painted by Cleveland-area graffiti artists. A patio and fire pit behind The Buoy overlook wooded trails and Heider Creek, providing a place to “hang out” and cook burgers during warmer months. A backyard deck will be added later this spring, along with a sand volleyball court in front of The Buoy.
“The opening of this new center extends the message that our church cares for and appreciates our youth enough to provide them with a place they can call their own,” said Taylor. “We want everyone to feel welcome here, regardless of their nationality, hair color, sexual orientation, spiritual beliefs, abilities, interests or what groups they affiliate with at school.”
“Adolescence has never been easy,” Brill said. “But it is extremely complicated in our world of social media, and in our community, where many students feel pressure to be perfect students and athletes. In my 18 ½ years of ministry in Avon Lake, I have seen this community struggle with the issues of teen substance abuse and teen suicide. The ministry Nate coordinates at ALUCC seeks to reach youth with the message of God’s unconditional love and acceptance. We provide adult mentors to whom the youth can connect, so that they know that there are adults in their lives, other than their relatives, who also care about them.”
About The Buoy
Each floor of the building is 784 sq. ft. The basement walks out onto a 750 sq.ft patio with a fire pit. The first floor has two handicap accessible restrooms and a cafe. The second floor is currently used for storage. The first garage (approx. 300 sq.ft) will be converted into a music room and a second garage is for storage.
The new addition to the house is 2100-sq.-ft. with a 1700-sq.-ft. main meeting room, a 200-sq.-ft. art room and a 200-sq.-ft. conference room.
Grand Opening Schedule for The Buoy
In addition to members from Avon Lake, ALUCC, which is located directly across from Bleser Park, has numerous members from Westlake and other surrounding communities. Members are welcome to join the opening ceremonies.
- Sunday, March 24, 12 noon – Dedication, ribbon-cutting ceremony, tours of the building and l reception.
- Monday, March 25, 6:30-8 p.m. - Jr. High youth group Grand Opening celebration with free pizza, giveaways and more. Any youth in grades 6-8 are invited to attend.
- Wednesday, March 27, 6:30-8 p.m. - All youth in grades 9-12 are invited to an action-packed evening of Sr. High Youth Group with free pizza, a chance to win a Cedar Point Season Pass, prizes, surprises and much more.