By Jane Torrance

The Mississippi Mills Youth Centre is now officially open thanks to our community!

What I love is that folks seem genuinely happy to see the return of a youth centre.  Did you know that Keepsakes invited MMYC to wrap gifts (and accept donations) during the downtown Almonte holiday market?  Did you know that MMYC was invited to operate the canteen at the recent David Francey concert?  Did you know that all the proceeds from the Lynn Myles and Kelly Sloan on December 23 will go to MMYC?  People want this centre to succeed, and are finding some great ways to show their support!

You can cut your cake and play with it too!

Just 2 years ago TYPS, a youth centre with more than 20 years of proving youth programs, abruptly closed its doors.  This really took us all by surprise and left a pretty big hole in the community and we have been working hard in the last 2 years to fill the gap.  First to meet with youth to find out what they really wanted, and then we supported youth to have the same conversation with other youth to check that they got it right.  And what do they want?

  • A youth centre
  • Employment and volunteer opportunities
  • A place to find out information about youth issues, and to be hooked up with supports if needed
  • A skate park (coming in 2017!)
  • Transportation (a Lanark County initiative is being studied)

We worked through 2 summers having a summer program at the curling club, and had so many partners in this – the Town, the other youth centres in Lanark County, and especially YAK in Perth, local service clubs like the United Way, The Mills, The Hub and the Civitan, local sports and recreation like lawn bowling, and tennis, local businesses like JB Arts, Almonte Potters Guild, and Patrices, and local mentors.  Kids had fun, and the long-term goal of opening the youth centre was taking form.

We recruited an Interim Board made up of representatives from interested support organizations to get us going – Jane Torrance (Lanark County Planning Council), Diane Smithson and Calvin Murphy (Town of Mississippi Mills), Fraser Scantlebury (United Way), Mary Ann Murray (The Hub), Jeff Mills (The Mills), Kevin Clouthier (Open Doors), Derek McLennahan (OPP), Tanis Cowan (YAK) and Laura Guthrie (Community)

We hired terrific staff – Les Voakes as the Director and Sarah Lickey as the Programmer.

And we started to plan, to write policies and procedures, to apply for Incorporation, to find a site, to secure some funding, and to start a great program

We have met kindness, generosity, willingness and excitement along the way – a true community spirit.  We opened the new Mississippi Mills Youth Centre on December 8th with a full house of supporters, and we thanked so many people because of their contributions of money, stuff, time and talent including:

  • The Mayor and Council of the Municipality of Mississippi Mills
  • The Warden and Lanark County Council
  • The Board & Volunteers at the HUB and REBOUND
  • Katherine Struthers
  • James and Kelly Torck
  • Almonte Civitan Club
  • Pakenham Civitan Club
  • Hunter Graves
  • Ron and Sean Kerr
  • Bonnie Ostrum
  • Laura Guthrie
  • Chris Latham
  • Trish Sawer
  • Christian Poulsen
  • Phoenix Torck
  • Robin Vaughan
  • Harold McKay
  • Kemptville Youth Centre
  • Momma’s Place Restaurant
  • Barry Smith
  • Smith’s Falls & District Club for Youth
  • Guido Patrice – Patrice’s Your Independent Grocer
  • Peter Mansfield
  • Almonte District High School
  • Milano’s Pizza
  • Elm Development – Mall
  • Metroland Media – The Canadian Gazette
  • Christina Latifa
  • Diane Smithson
  • Sarah Lickley
  • Laura Guthrie
  • Jane Torrance
  • Board, Staff and Volunteers of the Mississippi Mills Public Library
  • Levi Home Hardware
  • Jason Lee
  • Barbara Taylor
  • Paul Laforce
  • Hashem
  • August
  • Coalition of Lanark Youth Centres
  • Tiffany MacLaren
  • Trish T.
  • Keepsakes
  • Centre for Excellence
  • ECO Canada
  • Almonte Potters Guild
  • Kate McDermott
  • Lisa Young
  • Maureen Dagg
  • The community

We have a founding Board of Directors who will now lead the MMYC to its first Annual General Meeting in early summer, including Jane Torrance, Judith March, Patrick Arbour, Jeff Mills, Fraser Scantelbury, Mary Ann Murray, Kevin Clouthier, Derek McLennaghan, Laura Guthrie, Jessica Cornford and David Bird.

For now, MMYC is only open Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays because we are still in grant writing and fundraising mode. As MMYC grows, you can expect great youth and community programming, a job and volunteer board, accessible information about youth issues, and links to resources. The centre will also be the place for art, sports, music and games and everything in between. Drop by for homework help, for after-school program and for evening drop-in. We also hope that with the input of the community and youth, MMYC can create a social enterprise to fund the centre and provide skill building opportunities for youth.

MMYC is a place where every young person is welcome, and a place where community spirit is alive and well! To get involved as a youth, volunteer, sponsor or partner, please contact us!

Support the Youth Centre by attending this great Kelly Sloan and Lynn Miles concert!