Dresden youth centre re-opens in new digs

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Youth here have a new hangout and some adults couldn't be happier.

The Dresden Sidestreets Youth Centre (DSYC) has re-opened following a planned closure to move down Main Street.

After 13 years of offering services to this community's youth aged 11 to 17 in rented facilities, the centre purchased 175 Main St. located across from the local post office, in late June.

Volunteers spent the next few weeks renovating, cleaning and painting the new facility.

"We couldn't have got this far without United Way," DSYC board member Lori Ouellette told The Chatham Daily News.

The centre receives about $2,000 a month in funding from United Way and through its own fundraising efforts has been able to "tuck away" a few dollars each month towards purchasing a building.

Ouellette said the acquisition was made possible because the property owners agreed to hold a mortgage on the building.

She expects the centre to pay down the mortgage in about three years, ensuring the stability of the youth programming for years to come.

Jordan Banman, 13, attends the centre often.

"It's a fun place to hang out, meet lots of people," Banman said.

Nathan Ellis, 12, enjoys the pool table.

"I'm learning pool. It's one of my favourite games," Ellis said.

"I like the (centre's) rules – no yelling, no swearing," he added.

Ouellette's own children attended the centre when younger and she decided to continue to help the operation as a volunteer board member.

"I have a passion for it. I like to see the kids have a place for themselves," Ouellette said.

In addition to providing games, there are six computers and a school homework program.

"High school students help the younger ones with their homework as part of their community work, so it's win-win," Ouellette said.

On any given time, 20 to 30 young people will find their way to the centre.

The centre hours are Tuesday to Thursday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday to Saturday 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The free after-school help with homework is offered Tuesday to Friday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Ouellette's son, Tyler said in an e-mail he credits the dedication of a part-time supervisor and many volunteers for their interest in ensuring local youth have "a safe and enjoyable environment in which they have opportunities to learn and grow into positive, productive and motivated young adults."








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