When the Eaton Rapids Community Alliance decided it was time for a Eaton Rapids to have its own teen center, they knew they needed to set goals. The goals included gathering teen interest, surveying the needs and desires of local teens, finding a location, and hiring a director for a future center. At the end of 2017, after accomplishing several other goals, it finally came time to hire a director. As of the first week of 2018, the final goal of hiring a teen center director was achieved with the hiring of Aron Dubois.

A 2011 graduate of Eaton Rapids High School, Dubois is an Eaton Rapids native. After graduating high school, he’s studied at LCC, Grand Valley State University, and taught English in Japan. Dubois currently resides in Ann Arbor with his wife Hilari.

“I find the journey always leads back to home,” Dubois said about returning to Eaton Rapids.

Dubois recalled his own teen years growing up in Eaton Rapids. He remembers teachers, activities, and the opportunities he found in the Island City. There was, however, an absence for teens. A place where they could be away from home, and school, and social groups to engage in their own creative projects and self-education. In stepping into the new role at the Teen Center, he hopes to provide Eaton Rapids teens a place he would have sought out as a teenager.

“This is giving a place for teens to be comfortable and productive,” said Dubois. “It’s such a great thing to be a part of.”

Along with the great potential that’s been built up for the teen center, Dubois brings his own set of skills and talents to Eaton Rapids teens. He has training and education in computer programming, something that will go a long way for teens who want to work on the donated laptops. Dubois has some education and experience in the social sciences, something that he hopes will translate well as he interacts with teens on a day to day basis. Dubois also enjoys activities like anime conventions and comicon, which is an easy connecting point for many teens.

Like the Teen Center board and the Eaton Rapids Area Teen Initiative, Dubois is leaving open the door of possibilities for the Teen Center. With his own skills and experiences, he doesn’t want to ascribe anything to what the teen center will or will not be.

“Most ideas I want to come from the teens. I want to hear what they want to see.”

Dubois has already visited the junior high and high school in Eaton Rapids to get in touch with students and hear directly from them some of their ideas. So far he’s been excited by their enthusiasm, and the creativity of their ideas.

Already Dubois sees some of the potential with the teen center facility. He’s pleased there’s a stage to use at the Union Street building, as well as couches, and computers that have been donated to the center. The space provides multiple opportunities for teens to create their own programming and projects.

Likewise, Dubois is pleased with the fundraising that’s already been done on the teen center’s behalf. According to Dave Ballard, a member of the Eaton Rapids Community Alliance, there is about $70,000 committed to the teen center, with $40,000 fully donated.

The Eaton Rapids Teen Center will have a series of open houses in February, which will be part of the center’s official opening. For more information on Aron Dubois, the open houses, and the teen center, readers can visit the Eaton Rapids Area Teen Initiative Facebook Page.