Inside a plain-looking black warehouse on South Elm Street in Washington C.H. is the dream hangout of every middle and high school student. There’s a skate park, pool tables, Foosball, games, and space simply to relax with friends.
The Warehouse is celebrating its 21st year in the community with a renewed focus on art and music, along with a new director, Abby Fitch.
Former director, Molly Gruber, said, “As soon as I met Abby, I knew she was the one for me to pass the torch to! She is fun, patient kind and has so many fabulous ideas for The Warehouse. She is the perfect person for the job and I can’t wait to watch her shine!”
Gruber had a very successful run as director for almost five years before taking another job.
Fitch said she became involved with The Warehouse after moving from Las Vegas to Washington Court House to be closer to family. A Google search for ways to get involved in the community led her to The Warehouse and “I came out here and just fell in love with the kids,” she said.
After a few months as a volunteer, Fitch became director. She said her favorite part of her job is “definitely the kids” and added, “if I’m not teaching them something they’re teaching me something.” At the moment, the kids are focused on teaching Fitch how to skateboard.
Fitch has some big plans for The Warehouse this summer. These plans include plenty of art projects, free beginner guitar lessons, concerts, an open house, and more. The most important thing about The Warehouse, however, isn’t the activities or games, it’s that it’s a place where “you can just be you,” according to Fitch.
For the primarily middle school-aged kids who tend to spend time at The Warehouse, a place where they can be themselves is vital, Fitch said. “They can hang out with their friends and just be goofy. It gives them somewhere safe to be and somewhere different,” she added.
In addition to providing a safe, fun space for children and teenagers to spend time, The Warehouse provides some important services. For example, every Friday the Rose Avenue food pantry fills Fitch’s car with donations. Fitch then brings these donations back to The Warehouse so that every kid can bring a box of food home for the weekend.
“The people at Rose Avenue are really phenomenal,” said Fitch.
The Warehouse also hosts a free dinner about once a month. In addition, free clothes are available for anyone who needs them. The kids can simply look through the clothes that are on display near the front door and take home anything they need.
The Warehouse is a nonprofit that relies on grants, donations, and volunteers. Fitch said she’s currently seeking volunteers.
“We need people who really care about our youth,” she said. “We’re here to teach them and be role models for them.”
One current volunteer is 21-year-old Brandon Campbell. Campbell said, “I started skating here when I was like 12 years old and I’ve been here ever since.” Volunteers like Campbell help to supervise the kids and to maintain the property.
The Warehouse is free and open to middle and high school students. It’s open Tuesday through Thursday from 3 p.m. to 6p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.