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The Chemical Health Commission of the City of Hopkins conducted a forum in order to learn the substance use and abuse situation at Hopkins High School. Thirteen chemically free student panelists presented their stories to an audience of 250 community members; some students had never used, some were in recovery, one admitted she was straight today, but could not make promises about tomorrow. At the conclusion of the evening, the community was amazed. They couldn't believe that any good kid next door could become narcotic dependent. Or that teens could have a smoking addiction or be a chronic alcoholic. The answer became obvious then. Hopkins did not have a chemically-free place for youth to gather that was nearby and safe. A question was posed by one of the student panelists to the audience, "Can you help us?"
After two years of discussion, the project begins, as yet unnamed. Community members, business people, and students worked tirelessly together. An abandoned train depot along the former Milwaukee Railroad Line was chosen. This site was ideal for its location along Excelsior Boulevard and Highway 169, its restoration historical potential, and the lease terms of $1 per year to City of Hopkins from the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority.
The Depot Coffee House renovation completely by volunteer craftsmen and carpenters reaches completion on September 2, 1998. The project was funded by donation of money, labor, materials and grants from area foundations, a major contributor being Park Nicollet Foundation.
Grand opening on October 30, 1998. The Depot Board is charged with overseeing the entire project including the business coffee house. The student board works as the coffee house staff and management.
City Pages, recognizing perhaps the business' success compared to Uptown, awarded the Depot "Best Coffee House" for the 2000 Best of the Twin Cities. Star Tribune picked up and featured the music shows which ran Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
The Teen Center, led by Financial Officer Kenneth Ward launches "Teens in Action: The Operation of a Youth-Run Teen Center and Coffee House" — a curriculum of what and how the Depot Coffee House project ideally was operating at the time.
The business is solely charged with the Operations Manager. The Depot Coffee House evolves into two important entities, Teen Center and Business.
The Depot Board produced "Wired Volume I" a compilation CD featuring the Depot Coffee House local bands. For New Year's Eve 2004, the Depot held its first New Year's Eve Bash Battle of the Bands. Other large events done by the board include the Freight Yard Party, and the Halloween Bash.
A new modern sound system was installed via a Metropolitan Regional Arts Council Grant. The coffee house came under the direction of the Hopkins School District Royal Cuisine.
Depot consortium (Depot Express) takes over coffee house management.
Youth Award for Creativity launched – provides financial support for art/performance/music projects for local students.
Bike Scream Sundaes begin – monthly summertime bike treks to local ice cream venues departing from the Depot.
Depot celebrated 10th birthday with Anniversary Dinner and Outdoor Picnic.
First Hip Hop Residency with Kristoff Krane – funding from McKnight Foundation.
Depot students staff popcorn and cookie booth at inaugural Hopkins in Motion event.
ENTIRE Depot Board of Directors receives Caring Youth Award.
Hip Hop Residency with No Bird Sing – funding from One Voice Coalition.
Depot Partner Three Rivers receives grant for solar panels on the Depot and alternative energy education projects on site.
Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre lead community workshops for a Depot Raspberry Parade entry - funding from Minnesota Regional Arts Council.
“Raspberry Jam” 24 hours of (mostly) live music during Raspberry Festival.
A good mix of innovation and building on successful past events kept everyone at the Depot very busy in 2011.
Our goal for every event is youth participation - in the planning, in the marketing, in the activity, and in the evaluation. Our live music events continue to bring youth from the entire West Metro to the Depot.
Financially, we are finding our way in a nonprofit environment that has been shaken. Many of our traditional funders are experiencing a decline in investment income and donations. By limiting our expenses, working some unpaid hours, and seeking a broader base for funding, we have survived.
Laurel Sundberg's 'Local Landscapes' collection was featured at the Depot. (Featured painting: Garden to Sleep, 8x10, oil on linen).