Exploring Time Youth Impact Center

Did you know that Dothan, Alabama is home to an organization that works to positively empower the youth of our community? In this episode of "Home Grown," I’m going to take you on a tour of the Time Youth Impact Center right here in Dothan. We’ll meet Nate Patterson to find out what this organization offers, how it runs, and ways you can take part in building up the community.

Welcome To The Time Youth Impact Center

Nate Patterson is the Founder and Executive Director of Time Youth Dothan. He took us on a tour of Time Youth Dothan’s Impact Center so we could find out about all the activities local youths can take advantage of. 

When the kids come to the Center, they sign in and sanitize their hands to follow COVID protocols. The center does a shoe drive; if anyone comes in with worn-out footwear, they can grab a pair in their size and take them home at the end of the day. The children will also get a meal and then have time to play and just be free. 

Focusing On Fun

Since the kids are coming out of school, the Center doesn’t want to have them feel like they're back in school again. That’s why they make sure all attendees get to play games, hang out, and socialize. They also don’t allow the kids to have cell phones out at the Center. In this way, they can get back to actually playing together and talking together—especially since we all know that cell phones, Instagram, and Facebook are really taking away from the key of social activities. 

One of Nate’s favorite games to compete in is Foursquare. His wife is big on journaling, so they also have journal topics presented to the kids every day—which can be about the community, school, peers, or faith. The kids get to free write based on the topic, take their journal home, share it with their parents, or share it within the group of their Time Youth Dothan peers.

Encouraging Socialization

To encourage the kids to socialize, Time Youth Dothan offers tables and stations with pens, crayons, markers, and more. There are rules they implement to foster a healthy environment—like putting the cell phones away, as mentioned earlier. This is important because phones take away from the social aspect when it comes to relationships with kids, peers, and even volunteers. 

The kids are able to sit at one of many seats around a table, and groups of boys and girls are rotated every week. This rotation ensures they’re meeting new people every week, avoiding cliques. Additionally, all of the activities available are interactive. 

From arts and crafts to board games and reading, everything can be done within the group. Nate and his wife want the Time Youth Dothan kids to be interested and feel like a family when they come to the Impact Center. The pair is big on just loving, serving, and growing—and that comes with better relationships. 

Books And Barbers

Another awesome feature of Time Youth Dothan Impact Center is the small library area. Decorated to look colorful and intimate, reading is encouraged for all the kids that attend. They can read three to four books, write a paragraph about them, and Time Youth Dothan gives them a trophy with their name on it as an incentive. 

They’ve also connected with the barbers here in the community to give the kids a free haircut if they ready a book. This simple act increases confidence, and reading out loud and in front of people that you don't know encourages literacy for every child. 

Embracing Faith

As Nate says, Time Youth Dothan is not a big facility. Despite its size, they use every inch. As a faith-driven organization, anybody is welcome to the Impact Center. They don’t look at race, color, or age. They want people to feel welcome and know that they love God and are going to share that love with the community.

Their live DJ setup allows them to play music and have fun. The goal is to make the space a place to be free to just be yourself. The worship night held every first Thursday is a huge draw; they turn the strobe lights on, play music, have candy, play different games, and worship as well. 

The kids who attend are required to respect others and have fun. Time Youth Dothan is a zero bully tolerance zone. Because bullying is fairly big in schools right now, the example is set at the Impact Center to show love and respect to the space and each other. When the kids do this, everyone has a good time. 

Computers And Video Games

Another great feature of Time Youth Dothan is the computer lab. Kids who don’t have computers can take advantage of Internet access, doing homework assignments, filling out applications, or writing resumes. They're also free to print out copies of anything they need.

Along with computers, the Center offers movie nights on a big screen—complete with popcorn. It's free for parents and the public to spend time and enjoy the entertainment. This includes fun arcade games like NBA Jam, Pac-Man, and The Simpsons. 

How It All Started

Now that we know about everything Time Youth Dothan Impact Center offers, let’s learn a little about Nate’s history and how Time Youth Dothan got started. Coming back to Dothan in 2015, Nate and his wife’s goal was to start a small clothing store business in the city. Nate also wanted to go back to his hometown, growing up as a son of a single mom who did her best to raise him. 

Nate’s mom worked two jobs, and she couldn't watch everything he was doing. When he was around 10 or 12 years old, he was out in the streets doing things he shouldn’t have been doing at that age. Moving forward, Nate wanted to go back and serve that same community. 

Time Youth Dothan started off with Nate having a basketball, playing with the kids he’d see out late at night. He’d ask them what they were doing, how their life was going, and worked to build relationships with them. It started out with three or four boys coming out to play football—and grew to 20. Then a few girls start coming in. The next thing he knew, Nate and his wife had 30+ kids as part of the group.

A Leap Of Faith

In the early days, Nate and his wife would just spend time with the group. Whether it was at the library, hanging out at the park, or playing on the basketball courts and football field, the pair simply interacted with and showed love to the kids. They didn't know what would come about from the group; they just continued to be consistent with it. 

Additionally, the pair didn't have a facility. Nate and his wife discussed how they to be more consistent with what they were doing. Nate felt God was calling him to be a vessel; this made it a faith action that they had to take. The pair opened the Impact Center not knowing where they were going to go with it; they simply knew it was a need here in the city of Dothan. 

Programs For All Ages

Nate and his wife opened up Time Youth Dothan Impact Center to offer free programs for youths ages 8 to 19. They don't charge anything for their programs. The kids simply come in, the Time Youth Dothan meets with the parents, and the parents sign them up. Nate shows the love of God here through observing, loving, and reaching out. 

There’s a variety of programs that youths can take advantage of, including an after-school program, mentorships, and ministry. For the school program, most of the first thing the kids say is they’re hungry. Nate’s wife loves to cook, so she tries to serve them dishes they may not receive on a daily basis. Some of her favorites include curry chicken, Mexican dishes, spaghetti, and more that gives kids some exposure to foods they may not receive at home. 

In addition to the journaling mentioned earlier, Time Youth Dothan is also big on reading. Some of the kids are behind on their reading levels, and they’re encouraged to read with trophies for writing book reports. Nate says a big part of the after-school program is pouring into the kids and showing the love of God through reading, writing, and games. 

The Teens To Work Program

For Time Youth Dothan teens, the Teens To Work Program offered to 15 to 19-year-olds help the kids find jobs. When Nate was 15 and 16, he wanted to have things in life. However, sometimes the streets will call kids to do things that they shouldn't be doing. He used to cut grass and find all kinds of ways to make some money; the program has the same goal but offers resources that the teens might not know about.

For example, if Chick-fil-A is hiring, the Teens To Work Program teaches the kids that they have to present themselves at a certain level. They have to dress a certain way, not walking in with sagging pants. Nate wants to give kids those resources so they don’t have any excuses with the Teens To Work Program. 

In-School Mentoring Program

Lastly, Time Youth Dothan has an in-school mentoring program at Dothan Preparatory Academy. This program is about young men that want to be leaders in their schools and their communities. There are currently about 20 young men from all different races that support that program—and Time Youth Dothan pours into them.

For example, Nate and his team take them on a college tour of Alabama State University to give them college exposure. Of course, you don't have to go to college to be successful, but the kids are given the opportunity to see what college looks like. 

How You Can Help

Time Youth Dothan is 100% donation-based. There are a variety of ways the community can come together to help support Nate and his wife’s organization. For one, Nate says they always need volunteers to spend time and love at the Center. However, they do ask that volunteers are consistent. 

This is especially important because a lot of kids deal with a lot of abandonment, where people may come in and out. So if you can't be consistent, then Time Youth Dothan prefers you just donate monetarily. If you'd like to be a volunteer, just make sure it can be on a regular basis.

Because they’re 100% donation-based, they always need funding to keep the lights on and keep all the different programs available for the kids. They also have a dinner once a month with the parents, asking the adults how they’re doing and how Time Youth Dothan can help. Although they work hard to help the kids, the relationships at home can make a huge difference. Encouraging the parents is vital, and they need funding to keep these monthly dinners alive.

Looking To The Future

With all the amazing work that Time Youth Dothan does, they still have their eyes on the future. Nate and his wife are believing this year that they’ll have a location that could impact hundreds of kids. There are currently about 40 kids that attend the youth center—and there’s a waiting list of about 40 more kids that want to be here. 

The pair are hoping to be in a bigger location in the same neighborhood. This comes back to faith; sometimes you just have to believe, even though you may not see it. Nate believes in Time Youth Impact Center and also believes in a bigger location where they can make a greater impact.

Plan Your Visit

Time Youth Dothan’s Impact Center is located on South Oates Street in Dothan. The after-school program is held Monday through Wednesday from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. The Teens To Work program is held Monday through Friday from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. 

There’s also a youth ministry worship night that is held every first Thursday, from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm, that's open to the public. Parents can come along with kids; the doors are open and pizza is served. There’s live music, games, and activities, making it a safe haven for the kids and a place where they can feel safe, love, grow, and understand that God is love. 

Support Time Youth Dothan

I hope you've enjoyed this episode of Homegrown, learning more about all the wonderful people that are truly making a positive impact in our Dothan Wiregrass communities. They really are making the world a better place. So if you’re interested in volunteering, donating, or just learning more about Time Youth Dothan, you can find them on Facebook or their website. We look forward to supporting their vision and helping in this mission. 

For more information about living in Dothan and the Wiregrass area, be sure to subscribe to my channel so you never miss an episode of "Home Grown." Stay tuned to see what I feature next!