The sun has just set on a glorious summer Friday night, and in the parking lot of the Poirier Leisure Centre a group of teens is hanging out.
They're also chatting, but not about topics most adults might think would be on the top of young people's minds.
Sure, there's a reference to pop star Justin Bieber, but there is more substance to the conversation then for most adults mingling at a nightclub.
They're talking about openly gay classmates, bullying and thugs.
But for the crew with Project Reach Out, an outreach bus operated by PoCoMo Youth Services in the Tri-Cities, this is a typical discussion on a Friday night.
For years, the bus has been making the rounds on weekends, talking and engaging teens from around the community.
At one point, nearly a dozen teens filed on to the outreach bus in the parking lot during the stop.
It's the kind of contact the Project Reach Out team is looking for.
They're Coquitlam teens like Kayla Joseph and Emily Lauten.
The two have seen the bus around a few times.
They like it because it gives them an opportunity to talk about some weighty issues without any judgment.
"I think it's pretty helpful because I don't talk to my parents about certain things," Lauten, 14, told The NOW.
The bus can even act as a haven from streets that aren't always the safest, especially for young women.
The previous day, the two friends were walking home when they were approached by a group of people in a car.
"We were walking down the street and there was this car, and they yelled at us, 'Hey girls, what are you doing tonight?'" Lauten said.
"We ignored them, but they kept on driving by us, so finally we hid in a bush until they stopped turning around."
Joseph, 15, chimed in that she wouldn't walk home at night without a friend.
If you see it driving down the street, it's unmistakable with its large graffiti-art inspired decal.
Though it may be a shuttle bus on
the outside, the inside of the Reach Out bus is a quasi office and party space, complete with mood lighting and a stereo system fit for any lowrider.
The idea is to make the environment as fun as possible, so teens feel comfortable on the bus to discuss whatever might be on their mind.
The bus is loaded with the typical items you'd think would be offered by a youth service, like condoms and information pamphlets.
But the bus also has a team of four adult youth workers, who have seen and dealt with pretty much everything imaginable.
Sometimes, the team is handing out donated food and water to grateful kids in a local park, or passing on information about safe sex.
The workers must document all of their contacts through a shift.
Melita Staley is the bus captain. By day, she works for the Vancouver School Board as a special education assistant.
She remembers the bus back when she was a Coquitlam high school student.
Now in her 20s, Staley said she gives up her weekends to spend time on the bus because she has a "pull" toward this kind of work.
"It definitely opens your eyes to a different world," she said.
She's not the only one. Jay Elliston moved from Ontario and has been looking for opportunities to work with youth.
On this day, the 35-year-old is training in the Tri-Cities to work on the second outreach bus, being used in Langley.
"I just like that interaction," he said, adding when he heard about the bus and what it does, he wanted to sign on.
Elliston said he's particularly inspired to interact with the tough kids - the ones that are even feared.
He refuses to fear or judge them.
"Someone has to give a damn," Elliston said.
Behind the wheel on this night is Jerome Bouvier, the executive director of the PoCoMo Youth Services Society.
For the most part, during the evening outings he likes to observe while the youth workers do their job, but his experience with the society gives him an opportunity to provide some guidance if needed.
"It can get pretty intense sometimes," he admits.
While this particular Friday turned out to be fairly routine, in one interaction a few months back, someone brought a knife on to the bus.
The bus now requires teens who board to leave their backpacks outside.
While the bus spends the majority of time reaching out to teens, it can be an extra set of eyes and ears in the community.
At one point, a group of adults decided to crack open a few beers in the parking lot of the PoCo Rec Complex after a lacrosse game, around younger children. The team decided to let staff at the centre know, so the situation could be dealt with.
In a roughly six-hour shift, the bus criss-crossed around the Tri-Cities, making stops at the Offside Youth Centre in PoCo, a popular park in the Cottonwood area, and Hyde Creek.
At the end of the night, the team will debrief and discuss the shift.
There are numbers to sort through and documents to fill out.
The team will also clean and ready the bus for another day.
But the team is in agreement: the night was a complete success.
In October, the PoCoMo Youth Services Society will be celebrating its 20th anniversary at a gala
in the Red Robinson Show Theatre in Coquitlam. While the event will be a celebration of the work the society has accomplished during the last couple of decades, it's also a fundraiser.
The organization does not receive any ongoing government funding and is totally reliant on grants, donors and fundraisers.
Earlier this year, Project Outreach was taken off the roads for a couple of months to give the society a chance to retool and streamline the program. During the project's hiatus, the society was bombarded by calls, texts and emails from local teens looking for the bus, waiting for it to come back.
Though the bus is back on the streets, Bouvier said the organization is in desperate need of funding.
He's hoping Tri-Cities businesses and residents will step up and help fund the society.
"We need their help," Bouvier said.
. For more information or to find out how to donate, visit PoCoMo's website www.pocomo.org for details.