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Catholic Charities suspends operations at Teen Center

WATKINS GLEN—Daily operations at the Schuyler County Teen Center at 208 North Franklin St. in Watkins Glen will be suspended for several months, due to funding problems. “We are not closing the teen center, but suspending daily operations to re-look at operations to see what the community wants and needs,” Paul Marx, agency director for Catholic Charities of Schuyler County said.
The Schuyler Teen Center is a diverse after-school program for high school students. Daily, it provides a number of social, recreational and educational activities. Teens can learn to cook through cooking classes, debates, community service projects, college visits, and just spending time with their friends. The center also offers weekly family dinners to help bridge the gap between youth, their families, and the center. Eleven years ago, volunteers started an after-school program for Schuyler County students in grades five through 12. Once a month students and volunteers met at St. Mary’s of the Lake Church for a fun night out, supported by volunteers and local church groups.
The program was very popular, and before long Catholic Charities received a New York State grant for the after-school program, and was able to be open about five days a week.
Between the 2004 and 2005, Catholic Charities received a three-year program grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The department was looking for teen programs to teach abstinence from smoking, drugs, alcohol, sex and violence. Marx described it as a “holistic approach to teen health.”
This grant also provided in-school education programs, the teen center on North Franklin Street to be opened, leadership development, a youth run business, family retreats, and other programs including college visits.
In 2008 Catholic Charities had the option to renew this grant for another three years, by this time however, the department had changed parameters of the program. If renewed, major changes would have had to take place for the center, so Catholic Charities decided to pass up the grant.
At this time, Schuyler County came forward to support the center with some one time state funding. Volunteers and staff also held a fundraiser dinner to fill the gap from October 2008 to October 2009. The teen center was however, reduced to “bare bones” with staff and programming cuts.
The teen center had another dinner fundraiser in October 2009, which raised about $14 thousand. Without extra funding from the state, there is not enough money to have the teen center open everyday.
The center has been operating in “bare bone” fashion for the past nine to 12 months, and has received money here and there. Catholic Charities feels that it is now time to take a step back and begin a developmental strategizing plan that will allow the center to move forward and be sustainable.
In October 2009, Catholic Charities began reaching out to community leaders and parents through interviews and teacher questionnaires. Interviews with teens from all three school districts in Schuyler County will also take place. The data, input, and future views of the teen center will be developed into a new vision, mission, and strategizing plan for the future of the center.
If the community comes forward with support, then it is hoped regional and national funding in youth development will be obtained. Support from the local community can be incorporated into messages to future donors and fund sources.
“We don’t want to walk away from the teen center. We are committed to seeing through this process and re-developing funding sources,” Marx said.
Catholic Charities is hoping to have the teen center back open by next fall.
Catholic Charities of Schuyler County works to fight the effects of poverty and its root causes through different types of work and programs. They ensure that people have food, clothing, shelter, medical services and the ability to achieve a decent standard of living. While also offering programs that specialize in residential services, community support services, public policy advocacy and parish services. Catholic Charities helps people of all faiths and backgrounds.
Marx and Andrea Mattoon, who works closely with youth programs at Catholic Charities, are encouraging members of the community to send their thoughts, ideas, and support for the teen center to 607 North Franklin St. in Watkins Glen or or

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