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Youth centre takes another step forward

Establishing a youth centre in the Town of Amherst has taken another major step forward.

On Tuesday, June 8, 2021, Mayor David Kogon presented a $33,750 Community Support Grant cheque to Sarah MacMaster, Maggie’s Place executive director, the first installment of a four-year commitment to provide non-renewable seed funding totalling $135,000 to the organization for the sole purpose of establishing a physical facility for a youth development centre.

 “The town believes a youth centre will have a positive impact on the well-being and healthy development of the youth who participate in programs andyouth centre 2 B services that will be offered at the youth centre,” Mayor David Kogon said, while conducting the cheque presentation on behalf of Amherst town council.

“We also believe a youth centre will help those youth affected by poverty break the poverty cycle, and helping break the poverty cycle is one of the priorities of the Town of Amherst.”

The need for a youth centre has been identified by many community organizations for more than a decade. It was first identified by Cumberland Kids, a large network of services providers that work with children and youth in this county in 2010.

Despite their best efforts, the group could not get the project off the ground, until the town reached a memorandum of understanding earlier this year with Maggie’s Place in which the town agreed to provide the seed funding to the organization, which is now leading the project.

“The funding will be used to cover the cost of a four-year lease for the new youth development centre,” Sarah MacMaster, Maggie’s Place executive director, said.

“A location for the youth development centre has been secured at 17 Lawrence St. and we will receive the keys in July.”

At that time, two summer staff will begin offering programming for the area’s youth. Whether that programming takes place inside the Lawrence Street location or outside will depend on the provincially mandated COVID-19 protocols in place at that time.

“This is an exciting project, one that invests in the youth of our community,” MacMaster said. “This investment in youth on behalf of the town is the launchpad for opportunities for youth in our community.

“As a service provider, youth advocate and mother of two who will grow up in Cumberland County, I am extremely grateful the town council is believing in this project as whole heartedly as the front-line staff who serve youth.”

Under the memorandum of understanding, Maggie’s Place is to use the seed funding to secure an appropriate place for the youth centre and will be solely responsible for developing and delivering all the programs and services, such as counselling, offered at the centre.

In addition, Maggie’s Place have agreed to maintain the physical state of the property and will assume full responsibility for all financial and liability aspects of the centre upon the conclusion of the four-year deal.