LAKE PLACID - The staff and board of the Shipman Youth Center believe it takes a village to raise children. To that end, they host an annual dinner to thank people who contribute to the well-being of local children. This year, their dinner focused on thanking municipal workers.
The mission of the Shipman Youth Center is to provide a safe place for young people to mature in a stable environment while providing both direct and indirect guidance for youthful activities. Serving more than 200 children, ranging from grades 6 to 12, the Center was inspired by and is dedicated to the memory of Thomas Shipman, a Lake Placid youth police officer who died unexpectedly in 1995.
Throughout the year, the Center's staffers engage young people in a wide range of community service programs that include an annual blood drive, volunteering at the annual Lake Placid Barbecue Festival, Village Cleanup Day and monthly Lake Placid Eats. In cooperation with the Cornell Extension, Shipman youth place 40 buckets around town each spring to collect maple sap and help boil it down to make syrup. At the Center, young people engage in sports and other recreational activities, get assistance with homework, and are provided positive adult role models.
Michael Durham and daughters, Kara and Marissa (Photo by Naj Wikoff)
"About two or three years after I came here, in 2006, Jason, my assistant, and I were getting ready for Thanksgiving and we decided to have a dinner for all the kids as a treat for everybody," said Jon Fremente, director of the Shipman Youth Center. "We cooked our turkey, stuffing, vegetables and all the ingredients here with the kids. The first year we had about 12 kids as well as several of their parents. The next year, we had about 24 kids and more parents. Each year, it grew with more parents showing up. Each year you had to stand up and say what you were grateful for."
"This is our sixth Thanks for Giving dinner," said Dmitry Feld, president of the Shipman Center. The Olympic Training Center smoked one of our turkeys and Generations Restaurant, Hannaford and High Peaks Resort also cooked for us."
"As it grew bigger, we decided that we should really invite the community and then started inviting community members, so we did that," said Fremente. "Then Dmitry said we ought to have a theme to it. The first time, we decided to thank the first responders. This year, we are thanking municipal employees. We are doing this to thank everybody because somebody in the community does something for us every day throughout the year."
"My children are in seventh grade and have been coming to the Shipman Center for a couple years," said Shipman board member Michael Durham. "I really want them to be involved in the youth center. I think it is a great place for them to come. It provides them a chance to express themselves and get a little bit of freedom without their parents being around. They get to hang out with their friends after school. When I come here to pick them up, I see the interaction and I think it is great. My children are 12. They are twins.
"My children and I volunteer for Lake Placid Eats every month. They come up and help serve and collect money at the door. They get involved in a lot of other things, such as they volunteered for Ironman. I grew up in a small town, and we were involved in the community through the school. We didn't have a youth center. At the Shipman Center, a lot of the kids volunteer for the Lake Placid Barbecue Festival, and my girls volunteered tonight. This gives them a place to go after school for several hours. It is better than them sitting at home."
"I like the video games and I like to come here and hang out with friends," said his daughter Kara. "I volunteer with the dinners."
"I do the same," said daughter Marissa. "I also volunteer for Ironman. We do the support and gear."
"Kara and I volunteered at an aid station," said Durham."
"I think it is wonderful," said Jennifer Reid, who works at the town transfer station. "It is so great and so nice of them to provide this dinner. It is exciting."
"I volunteer for the Shipman Center because I feel it is a great place for kids to go," said board member Amy Barney. "I feel that it is very beneficial and a very safe place for the kids to come after school. I have two kids who come here ages 14 and 15. I have been on the board three years now. We do the barbecue, events like this, and we get this kids involved in the village cleanup, a lot of great things and good causes."
"I look at the Shipman Center as one of the critical organizations that is helping to craft the lives of our young people," said Lake Placid Village Mayor Craig Randall. "It is giving the youth of our community a place to go. Amongst other things, it is helping convey moral values, which is very important today. One of the values of the Shipman Center is that it gives kids a lot of face-to-face communication. It is critical that we maintain these environments in our community for this type of purpose. When I think back to when Shipman was just getting started the whole concept was to provide a forum for young people to interrelate with each other and with adults, to learn some things, and have a comfortable environment to come to. I think it has succeeded in achieving that purpose."
"Oh my gosh! The dinner was fantastic and it is so nice that they invited us," said Laurie Dudley, North Elba town clerk. "I loved the squash and vegetables. Our kids love John and Jason. They play football and basketball."
"It was awesome," said her husband, John Dudley.
The Shipman Center is open Monday through Friday from 2 to 8 p.m. Call 518-523-8786.