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ABOUT

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​MISSION AND HISTORY

The Saranac Lake Youth Center opened in 1982 and serves all Middle and High School students primarily in the Saranac Lake School District.  It is open 2:30-7:00 pm Monday – Friday after school and for six weeks in the summer as well.  The Youth Center is housed in a bright 2000 sq. foot office space in downtown that is easily accessible from schools and neighborhoods.  Inside there is a pool table, air hockey, video games, music and a full kitchen available to learn cooking skills.  Daily free snacks are provided which has encouraged the kids visiting to stay for hours.  There is also an abundance of board games and art/craft supplies as well as lounge areas.  Computer, video and music usage is carefully monitored for appropriate content.  There is strict monitoring and restrictions for any sign of substance use.  Informal counseling and discussions focus on relationships, family, drug, and school issues.

 

Daily youth visits generally number from 15-35, most youth staying for hours.  In 2019 there were 5,387 visits, representing 234 individual youth.  This means over 30% of the entire district’s teen population use the Center.  The Youth Center is vitally important to the many youths who are not involved in after school activities and many regular attendees are teens from homes with financial challenges.  The rate of free lunch program at school is about 43%.  A survey of the May 2016 Youth Center attendance record shows that about 63% of visiting youth come from financially insecure homes. 

 

Teenagers, while no longer in need of “day care”, remain a vulnerable age group who benefit greatly from adult guidance.  The Youth Center’s true value is the safe, supervised, supportive space it provides for teens who are struggling.  The struggles vary, from family, financial or social issues, lack of supportive adults in their lives, to personal feelings of low self-esteem and isolation.  They are often the fringe kids, who may not feel accepted by their classmates.  At the Youth Center teens feel at home, accepted.  They are free to be themselves with understanding supervision.  They can eat, play games, do homework or do what’s most important to teenagers, just hang out.  With the current crisis of drug abuse and teen depression, the value of the Youth Center cannot be overstated. 

 

The Center’s focus is on forming positive relationships and being respectful and responsible.  The Director provides support and guidance while allowing the teens the freedom to express themselves and to explore their growing independence.  It is a space where teens feel safe and accepted during the unstructured after-school hours.  It is a space just for them, and it is a fun place to be.

STAFF

ADMINISTRATION

SUPPORT STAFF

JENNIFER KELLER, DIRECTOR

VOLUNTEERS

PAIGE MOODY

SAM DUFRANE

CINDY SMITH

TOM LONG

DIANNE FURTADO

GUIDO PENAFIEL

MADDIE CHAMBERS

RUSS DEFONCE

EVAN OLSEN

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

ALEACIA LANDON

PRESIDENT

PEGGY WILTBERGER

VP/SECRETARY

DIANE ROBERTS                

TREASURER                

DR. PATRICIA O'GORMAN

MEMBER

CASSANDRA HOPKINS

MEMBER

CRIS WINTERS

MEMBER
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