The mission of Soaring Above Ionia Teen Center is to provide a safe, caring and loving environment with one goal:
Leave no child behind!!!
We Are Providing an Environment for Our Teens to Grow & Excel
We are providing an environment that allows each member to be safe in their beliefs, gender, family’s financial status and educational abilities.
We provide each member homework help and educational opportunities for every individual to use to their best advantage.
We encourage each member to be the very best they can while learning to encourage others to do the same.
Leave no teen behind
What Parents are Saying
Dear Ken and Sally, I am writing to you to thank you for being there for me for the past three years. The amount of effort you put into the teen center and our community is amazing, as well as elevating for the youth of Ionia. You two have impacted my life in small ways that turned huge, like what is often said “Doing little things makes a big difference in one’s life.” And that is what the center has done for me, in 7th grade I was continuing to be bullied and became the really quiet kid, I needed somewhere or someone to reach out to but didn’t know where or who. Ken and Sally, they are the who and the Teen Center is the where. Without you, I have no idea what would’ve happened to me or my life. My social skills have built up immensely, I am talking a lot more and making friends in school. I am using my brain a lot more too, trying new thing, gaining more skills and opportunities.
I know I say it all the time when we speak in front of crowds, but the center has really changed my personality, shyness and life. It feels good to have a role in the center and its future. I can’t say thank you for everything you have done for me in this letter because it would turn into a book. All in all, I thank you Ken and I thank you Sally for the things you’ve done for me and taught me so far to help me succeed.
Sincerely, (Your Favorite) HT
“I want to thank you for helping my son. Because of you and your programs my son have achieved grades that have allowed him to play sports. But more importantly, I want to thank you for teaching him respect. He cleans his room with a lot less arguing and he now treats me with respect that he has never shown me.”
Turning Your Life Around
There is an old saying, “never judge a book by its cover.” Taking a deeper look, might show you things you never expected. A true hero is someone who does something bigger than themselves, for the benefit of another. I first realized this when I met Ken Baker.
Two summers ago, a good friend told me about this place called the “Soaring Above Teen Center.” When he mentioned they had games and food I was curious! When we went to check it out, I had a great time. I kept coming back, but started to notice the kids that kept showing up seemed like kids who really needed a safe place to go. They seemed hungry and needy. I wasn’t hungry or needy, I just wanted something fun to do. The center passed out things like shampoo, body wash and offered free lunches. I started to see this was a place for kids needing more than just free summer fun.
Recently, I have gotten to know the center’s founder, Ken Baker. I have watched him cheer kids up and cheer kids on. I asked Ken what made him decide to open this center. That’s when I learned that there is often more to a person, than meets the eye.
Ken Baker grew up poor, in a severely abusive home. He ran away at 13, and lived on the streets. He made poor choices and was sent to prison shortly after his daughter was born. Ken got an early release of 9 months, when he was looking at 25 years. He made a promise to himself, to never go back to prison. Ken wanted to be the father to his child, that he never had. Ken went eventually went on to earn his GED, Associates and Bachelors degrees. When his daughter was older, he volunteered at a Boys and Girls Club in Alpena, Mi. His daughter suggested he move closer to her and her children in Ionia, and open a teen center here. 6 Years ago this month, his daughter Tragically lost her battle with depression. Ken opened the teen center in her memory, and has helped over 500 children.
The last question I asked Ken was “What do you want your legacy to be?” Ken told me, “that I proved our past mistakes and poor judgements does not equal our future. They are just events in our lives that we get to learn from and build on to become better people. How we were raised as children does not mean we have to continue that cycle.
Ken Baker is My Personal Michigan Hero because he has chosen to take his painful past and turn it into a beautiful legacy. Ken rose above adversity and became an invaluable member of my hometown. His mission to be a mentor will no doubt change the lives of many for years to come.
Community Service Hours
As long as the rules and safety are not compromised, everyone between the ages of 12 and 18 who is attending school is welcome to become a member.