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Wilmington Youth Center gives teens a place to get involved

December 29, 2017
BY ED BURKE - Correspondent ( , Lake Placid News

WILMINGTON - The Wilmington Youth Center has filled an important social need of the town's children for years. It provides them a safe, bully-free and supportive environment where they can meet, hang out, help each other with homework, talk out problems and in general be themselves.

The building is not imposingly large by any means and is furnished in a "teen friendly" fashion - old, overstuffed couches and chairs that have a well-used comfortable quality about them. Basically, it's a big, open, organized although cluttered room with a kitchen and bath. There's a definite warm and homey feel to the place.

Right outside the doors are a skate park, baseball field, bike path, park and playground. There's also an ice skating rink for the winter that's maintained by the town of Wilmington and is open on a "weather permitting" basis. During the summer, Mountain Brook Lodge has made its swimming pool available provided there's adult supervision.

Article Photos

Wilmington Youth Center
(Provided photo — Ed Burke)

The center has computers, electric guitars, amplifiers, a foosball table, board games, television and a recent addition and gym equipment donated by Judge Kirby of Wilmington. Pretty much everything in the center was either donated or seems to have simply found a home there probably by way of past visitors.

Teresa Orsi has been the site director for three years. She's a mom with young teenagers who attend the site and she clearly enjoys her job especially during the holidays. There's a "make your own Christmas ornament" program that launched on the heels of a frighteningly successful Halloween haunted house, which the center hosted Halloween night. The Christmas program will be followed by an Easter egg project.

Programs are not just limited to holiday themes, though, and there's a great blend of creative flow to what the center has to offer and encourages in the kids who are there. It's really about expressing and being who you are.

The kids also enjoy cooking at the center with both boys and girls getting equally involved. Grilled cheese sandwiches are favorites and many claim their sandwiches are the best ever. Broccoli cheese soup is also very popular. Desserts rank high on the menu.

At any given time there are about 20 teenagers who enjoy the site. There are some younger children, too, and it's not unusual to have brothers, sisters and cousins. There's a real family sense of community about the Wilmington Youth Center.

Orsi stressed that the spirit of the center is community involvement, "a place to go, hang out and get involved with different community projects."

Each September, the center participates in the Festival of Colors with a table selling different pieces made for the event. It's mostly home baked goodies featuring cookies and brownies as Orsi points out, "stuff kids like."

The site is funded by the town of Wilmington but is also heavily dependent upon donations. The community responds in kind and cash, food or equipment contributions are always welcome. They're current needs/donations "wish list" now that winter is knocking on our door are for outdoor mats for the entry from the skating rink to the building and a business to contribute skate sharpening services.

The center is located on Park Lane in Wilmington and is best reached by phone via the Wilmington Town Center at 518-946-7174. It's open year round Friday through Sunday and is free to all. Hours are 4 to 8 p.m. Friday; noon to 8 p.m. Saturday; and 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday.



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