It is hard to think The Alley has been in Dodge City for 20 years.

Starting back in 1997 after the shooting death of Justin Mercado, Jim Lewis and other business associates came together to build a location kids and teenagers could go to instead of being in the streets.

The Alley was set up at 2200 1st Avenue and will be holding a 20th anniversary come and go party from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

"Every weekend there was an event," Alley board member Monica Astorga said. "I came in close to its opening as a DJ and then joined the board later on.

"It has been amazing to be here and watch kids who needed something and someone and see them change for the better.

"You would see kids come here with their heads hanging low and by the time they leave here and become adults, there head is held high.

"After 20 years we are seeing a lot of second generation kids come through the door who's parents used to come here as kids.

"It is an amazing sight to see."

The Alley offers after school programs Monday through Thursday from 3 to 5:50 p.m. which is free for middle school age students.

The program changes daily with events such as police officers speaking to the kids or a smoothie class in how to make a smoothie.

"There is also a teen board of high school students," Astorga said. "They come in and mentor the kids, help them with homework and just talk and engage with them to let them know they are there."

The Alley is a non-profit organization that is able to operate with funds from the community.

"People who donate are able to use it as a tax write-up," Alley director Mindy Stapleton said. "People are able to donate by rounding up their water bills to the next dollar if they like or if people are wanting to make a donation we are able to go to them as well.

"We also hold fundraisers and take part in the Duck Race and do different things throughout the year."

Recently The Alley replaced their heater and most of their funds were depleted due to the expense.

"We are building our funding back up," Stapleton said. "But we have the Tournament of Champions coming up where all school involved will be invited on Jan. 19 from 10 p.m. to midnight for just high school students.

"We also have 4th and 5th grade dances coming up as well.

"We really want to invite everyone in the community to come and see what we have done with the place this Sunday.

"I have talked to a few people already who have said they haven't been in The Alley in years so this weekend is a great opportunity to see what is going on."

For more information on The Alley visit, or email

To contact the writer email