Reid Madden has big dreams for . At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, the Hopkins junior pronounced that the teen-centered facility was going “multi-galactic.”
Madden’s ambitions might be a bit grandiose, but The Depot is on the verge of making a multinational jump. Following a visit to Minnesota in September, Hopkins’ Ukrainian sister city of Boryspil is getting ready to launch its own version of The Depot.
“The people in the (Boryspil) delegation were amazed by it, I think,” said Alex Aronovich, chairman of The Depot’s youth-led board.
The excitement started building before the Ukrainian visitors ever set foot in Hopkins. Mayor Gene Maxwell described the city-owned teen center during his visit to Boryspil with in May.
Boryspil Councilman Boris Shapiro was intrigued just hearing about it, said Irina Fursman—vice president of Brimeyer Fursman and one of the organizers of the civic leader exchange that led to the sister city relationship. Shapiro never actually visited Hopkins. But he heard praise The Depot and decided to champion a similar initiative in Boryspil.
“For one thing, that was the only thing related to youth and anti-drug, drug-free programs (that they saw on their visit). It is a huge problem in the Ukraine,” Fursman said. “I do know The Depot is pretty much a unique project in Minnesota.”
Shapiro has since received permission from Hopkins and The Depot to start a teen center using The Depot name in the Ukraine.
He chose a building in central Boryspil that will be renovated into the Ukrainian Depot using his business’ private money, Fursman said. The facility will then be used as a teen center similar to the Hopkins Depot.
Hopkins has already sent over posters to help it look more like its namesake right here in Minnesota. Boryspil gave the Hopkins Depot a plate-shaped plaque to commemorate their relationship. And Mayor Gene Maxwell is talking about making direction signs showing the distance between the sister coffee houses.
“(The Boryspil Depot) is not going to be exactly the same, but they will do their best with internal and external décor,” Fursman said. “Everybody is excited about this.”
But even if the looks are similar, Aronovich predicted that the Boryspil Depot will do some things differently than its Hopkins counterpart.
“The Depot has an international message, but the way it manifests itself is different in each community,” he said.
The project is still in its beginning phases, so coordination between the two Depots has so far been limited. Aronovich expects Hopkins to be more involved in the future.
The keys to the Ukrainian Depot’s success will be staying true to its mission, maintaining a friendly relationship with the local government there and ensuring that youth are actively involved, he said.
“As long as youth are behind an organization, it has a good chance of lasting,” Aronovich said. “We’ll be there to help them with whatever they need us to help them with.”
Boryspil teens likely won’t have long to wait to enjoy their Depot. The project already has the necessary permits from the Boryspil council, and construction is set to begin this month—with completion expected in May or early June.
“I think it’s just a wonderful thing for the youth of the Ukraine to get involved,” Aronovich said.