New youth center to open this fall in Tiffany Park

Renton Youth Advocacy Center Director John Houston, right, and assistant Frank Mattingly show off some of the games awaiting kids and teens at the new teen center, set to open this fall. - Tracey Compton, Renton Reporter
Renton Youth Advocacy Center Director John Houston, right, and assistant Frank Mattingly show off some of the games awaiting kids and teens at the new teen center, set to open this fall.
— image credit: Tracey Compton, Renton Reporter

A dream project now a reality, the Renton Youth Advocacy Center at Tiffany Park is preparing to celebrate its grand opening.

For John Houston, center director, it’s been a long but persistent journey to get the non-profit agency up and running to provide teens in the neighborhood with a safe place for hanging out, mentoring, tutoring and counseling. He is a long-time Renton resident and well-known high school basketball coach. Houston has built relationships with the City of Renton staff, including police and fire departments, and community members to bring this resource to youth in the Cascade area.

Located in the former Tiffany Park Recreation Center, RYAC will hold its grand opening from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sept. 7, at 1902 Lake Youngs Way S.E., Renton.

“I just feel good,” said Houston. “Being from here, I used these buildings when I was growing up and when they were open, we could go to the buildings.”

The recreation center provide another focus beside other mischievous adventures in the neighborhood.

“It gave me an option, it gave me a chance,” Houston said. “The option was there and that’s what we want to do with the kids, is give them that option.”

The new center is now a bright colorful space, well-lit, with natural light from lots of windows. IKEA donated the furniture in modern shapes and bold colors. There are books to check out, arts and crafts, snacks and beverages and specially selected video games to play on two large flat screen TVs. There’s both an air hockey table and a foosball table.

“This is awesome; this is comfy,” said Santos Covorrubias, who lives with his family in the neighborhood.

He was walking by with his daughter and the family dog and stopped in to check it out.

“This is where people would want to come and hangout and chill. Get away from probably other peer pressures and stuff like that and have a good positive experience; I’m all for it.”

Covorrubias moved to the the Tiffany Park neighborhood two years ago and was attracted partly because of the proximity of the park.

“I mean, where’s a community park like this that has a basketball court, a tennis area, a play area for kids and now a recreation center,” he said.

Covorrubias is also a counselor at Friends of Youth and RYCA reminds him of his company’s facilities, in the way they’ve been tailored to teens.

“I like kids; I like to see them succeed and I know that there’s a big void, there’s nowhere for them to go after school,” said Linda Wanless, a RYAC Board member.

Wanless was born and raised on Talbot Hill, owns a home in Renton but lives and works in Kent currently with the school district there.

“So I work with kids all day long, but that’s my passion too,” she said.

RYAC has 11 board members, who volunteer their time, and about 75 volunteers ready to help with tutoring and other needs. The group is working on grants to fund the center now and has already received funds from private donations and grants.

“I just want to make sure the kids have this place and they benefit from it,” said Houston.

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