Youth Center Incorporated in Adams is one of the many agencies assisted by the Annual Catholic Appeal. Liz Baker, executive director of Youth Center Incorporated shared this reflection on how the Appeal helps their work.
By Liz Baker
Youth Center Incorporated (YCI) helps young people build positive connections within their families, schools, and communities. Our mission is to provide community-based educational, recreational and social activities in a safe, supportive environment. The Annual Catholic Appeal has been a steward of YCI programs for over 22 years, and is an integral part of meeting our mission.
YCI has three major areas of programming; drop-in program, classes/special events, and community outreach. YCI’s base of operations is located at the Adams Community Center, where the drop-in program is. There, the young people “drop in” after school. At the drop-in many of the YCI principals are established. Providing a safe and supportive environment for youth development is of most importance for success. According to americaspromise.org young people; “need a healthy balance between structured, supervised activities and unstructured time”. YCI ensures the drop-in is a place where young people can build developmental assets such as positive adult role models, peaceful conflict resolution, sense of purpose, values, commitment to learning, and social skills. Drop-In participants age range from age 9 to 17.
Classes and special events include ongoing karate club and Red Cross babysitting course. There are seasonal/special classes such as; woodworking, technology/computers, chorus, and sign language- to name a few. Special event programming includes field trips, science fair, Christmas Make-it Take-it fair, Easter egg hunt, or campfire night. Attendance at special events range from 50 to 500 participants; with an average of 75. Currently YCI is working with a long-time friend and collaborator Church Outreach To Youth (COTY), in North Adams to expand in this area.
Community outreach is done through venues such as going to the local schools. The focus is on educational enrichment, team and community approach. The goal is to get young people motivated and focused about their life and future aspirations of which afterschool and school are major influencers on success in early adulthood. YCI performs outreach at the Adams, Cheshire and Savoy schools. Right now we are in the midst of the “You Rock”, a six-week character building class.
Approximately 65% of the young people attending the programs at the YCI are at-risk youth (e.g. receiving free and reduced lunch, under performance in school and low-income). Many of them rely on YCI for support ranging from homework help/academic enrichment, where to find social services, as well as developmental skills. Thanks to the Annual Catholic Appeal the at-risk youth we serve are given a place to learn, grow and make connections with their community. Thank you Annual Catholic Appeal!
YOUTH CENTER INFORPORATED
Serving the Communities of Adams, Cheshire & Savoy
P.O. Box 461, 20 East Street, Adams, MA 01220
Phone: (413) 743-3550 Fax: (413) 743-9550