EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — Now that the school year is in full swing, a teen center in our area has once again opened its doors.

A teen center for low-income teenagers in Lackawanna County has opened its doors for yet another school year. 28/22 News got to tour the large facility that offers after-school programs and even helps homeless teens get back on their feet.

When the dismissal bell rings at Scranton High, some of the students flock to The NEPA Youth Shelter on Wyoming Avenue in the Electric City.

This 12,000-square-foot facility opened in October 2017 and since then has been attracting teens from the Scranton area aged 14 to 18. This space is equipped with 40 different rooms for kids to spread out after school.

“We have games, activities, an art room, a recording studio. a pool table, air hockey, PS4, so there are plenty of things for them to do,” said Maher-Gray.

Framed memories decorate the walls of the teen center. Maureen Maher-Gray is the executive director and founder.

She shows us pictures of field trips she has taken over the years with groups of teens, artwork they created, and keepsakes of those teens who passed.

Last year an average of 40 kids visited this spot daily. Everyone is welcome. No questions asked. Rules must be followed.

“No fighting, no weapons, no vaping, of course, no smoking, we also ask them not to bring drugs, do drugs here. We also don’t allow gang members,” explained Maher-Gray.

The NEPA Youth Shelter is open weekdays from 3:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. dinner is served in the spacious kitchen giving area teens an opportunity to share a home-cooked meal, often prepared by Maher-Gray.

“A lot of them are low income as you know 80% of the school district qualifies for free and reduced lunch so i make an assumption, as a consequence kids do not have to pay for anything when they’re here and they’re always surprised by that,” added Maher-Gray.

It’s not just free food and games that are offered.

In the room, teens can come and grab a variety of personal care hygiene products, everything from body soap to shampoo, to makeup, and even travel-size toiletries, all free.

Clothes, shoes, and non-perishable food items are also available.

The NEPA Youth Shelter also runs a rapid Re-Housing Program for the homeless aged 18 to 21.

“They provide financial assistance for apartments, utility help, and grocery help. If they need a photo ID we help with that, if they need medical coverage set up, if they need snap benefits, we help with all of that so they can live independently,” continued Maher-Gray.

Volunteers help at the shelter to manage crowd control. There’s one adult per 10 teens to keep an eye on things.

Hired security is also staffed. The shelter also offers reproductive health education to help keep teen pregnancy at bay.

The shelter happily accepts donations. Items to fill its food pantry and supply closets are needed.

Anything nearly new or gently used can be given except undergarments. The NEPA Youth Shelter asks that donated undergarments be new.