In 2013, after 20 years of occupancy in the same space, the Lakes Area Youth Service Bureau was given notice from the city of Forest Lake that an option to sell the group’s city-owned building was being exercised. There was no specific timeline, but Executive Director Jeanne Walz knew that time was running short.
“This was going to be the biggest thing that has ever happened to us, and so we wanted to make sure that we did it right,” she said. “We began exploring options to either build or rent or possibly purchase.”
In September 2016, LAYSB was told that it would need to be gone from its current space at 244 N. Lake St. by March 1.
“The key was to find a place that we could afford without going into too much debt,” Walz said. “We want all our money to go toward our programming and people as opposed to a loan payment.”
The spot in the Town Square building at 20 N. Lake St. (once planned, and then abandoned, as the site of a new deli by a local restauranteur) was available and also fit the bill.
“Due to some problems with the previous owner, the bank wanted to offload the space right away,” Walz said. “Because of that fact, we were able to purchase the spot for 56 percent of market value. Once we are in, the monthly Town Square dues will be well within what we can afford.”
Although the LAYSB board of directors had been able to squirrel away enough money to pay cash for the space, the renovation was another story. The group began a capital campaign with a goal of $350,000 to renovate the space to fit its needs. It began with an ask of their board members and then moved on to known larger donors and foundations. Currently, LAYSB has raised $175,000. Any person wishing to make an individual donation can visit www.lakesarea40years.org.
“One of the things that has helped us out tremendously is the fact that Gaughan Companies has been handling our contract management services for no profit,” Walz said. “They have been finding contractors to do our work and have been getting us fabulous deals on the price. They have really been great to work with and we appreciate how far above and beyond they are going.”
The new space will be a huge change for LAYSB and when the group was notified of the impending move, it decided to roll with the changes and rebrand itself.
“Bureau makes people think government, and it also makes people think that we just work with the bad or the troubled kids and that is the furthest thing from the truth,” Walz said. “We work with families of all different kinds. Therefore, we decided to change our name to The Lakes Center for Youth and Families.”
The newly branded Lakes Center will feature a large education and learning center, a large group room, two counseling rooms, seven office spaces, a reception area, a staff work room and file center, and a small kitchen area to serve as a break room.
“The ultimate result of all our hard work will be to create a welcoming, comfortable place for youth and their families where they can readily access an array of essential programs and support services,” Walz said.