Elkhorn youth center a place to learn

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Edwin Scherzer | September 22, 2013

ELKHORN — The orange luminescent sign glows warmly, in a hue not seen anywhere else in the city. For many the sign would seem strangely out of place, situated across from the Walworth County Fairgrounds. However Sophos, a youth center, and an outreach of Southern Lakes Evangelical Free Church, has come to be a welcoming beacon, in a time when so many other messages lead teens in different and sometimes dangerous directions.

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Inside the building also is welcoming, with conversation centers, a large kitchen, computers and a game courtyard, all situated inside a renovated former business, just down the road from Elkhorn Area Middle School. In a new building coinciding with a new school year, Sophos would seem to be well situated, however to get its future, you have to rewind to the past.

The Rev. Jason Eeten, pastor of student ministries at SLEFC, said he and the Rev. Sean Sweetman, senior pastor, were looking for a “trial run” of sorts in the community. In 2011, they found a donated space in downtown Elkhorn. Eeten said he wasn't sure how they would meet the youth population when the venture started.

"We didn't know if students would come, we didn't even know if they would be able to find it,” he said.

But, students did find Sophos, and interest grew as the word spread among the younger generation. The outreach had worked, but the free space didn't, as a paying tenant leased the building.

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