Young attendees of the Pemi Youth Center Tilton had the honor of cutting the ribbon held by board member Peter Saliba of Tilton School, and chairman Stephen Rock as fellow board members, staff, Tilton selectmen and community supporters cheered the official opening of the area's new youth-based support center. (Photo by Donna Rhodes)
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November 21, 2017TILTON — On Thursday, Nov. 16, board members, staff, Tilton selectmen and young teens gathered to celebrate the ribbon-cutting for the new Pemi Youth Center Tilton, a home away from home for youth who could use an added boost along the road to success.
Joining them for the official opening were Samantha Diemont, Executive Director of the Pemi Youth Center in Plymouth, along with former director and now board member of the Plymouth center, Jessica Dutille.
"This has been our dream for such a long time (to have youth centers in other communities) and we're so excited that more kids will now have the opportunity to be involved in this program," said Diemont.
Tilton's director, Jessica Descoteaux, shares that same excitement. She said currently there are 15 Winnisquam Regional School District students from grades 5-12 enrolled in the program with still more on a waiting list.
"The kids come here from 2:30-5:30 p.m. five days a week and we just have a great time," Descoteaux said.
Homework assistance is one focus of their daily time together but they also do much more. Sports, arts and crafts, games and discussion groups are also scheduled each week.
"Right now the kids love sitting down to play Uno together and when the weather's good they love playing soccer out on the back lawn," she said.
It's not just fun and games though. Confidence, self-esteem and a sense of purpose are just a few of the important things the center helps instill in its participants
Ella, Logan, Jillian and Amanda said that in just a few weeks they already look forward to crossing the street from school to spend a few hours together at PYC-T.
"My friends are all here. We don't have to ride a bus to get here and we play a lot of games together. It's really a lot of fun," said Logan.
Jillian said she likes doing crafts and looks forward to the completion of the second floor craft room while Ella said she likes knowing she can get help with her schoolwork. They agreed that the afterschool snacks available in the center's café style kitchen are great, too.
Plymouth Board member Dutille said she was happy to see the ribbon cut on the new Tilton center. Tilton Police Chief Robert Cormier has been on the board for the Plymouth Pemi Youth Center since it opened in 1999, and Dutille said she knew how much it meant for him to finally bring their concept to Tilton.
"Chief Cormier has been dreaming of this for years and I'm so glad his dream has finally come true," said Dutille.
Cormier was certainly all smiles as he greeted everyone and thanked all who helped make the newest Pemi Youth Center possible. During his years as a police officer in Plymouth, he said he saw what a positive difference the center made and when he came to Tilton, he found many similarities between the two communities.
"When I first went to Plymouth, there was no place for the kids to go after school and a lot of them had home lives that weren't perfect. The businesses were getting frustrated with them hanging around downtown but there was nothing else for them to do until Glenda (Twomey) came up with the idea for the Pemi Youth Center," he said. "We have the same things, those same problems going on here in Tilton but now, in just a month, I'm already seeing a huge difference in these kids. It's awesome."
Cormier said he is truly grateful to WRSD, which made the center part of their new System of Care Grant that helps fund the program, and to Mary Steady of the N.H. Department of Education who helped obtain the grant.
Doug Rollins of Exit Lakeside Realty Group offered a generous lease for the building and many skilled professionals gave their time to transform it from a real estate office to a second home for youth in the program. Volunteers also lent countless hours to the process while many generous individuals and local businesses donated furniture and other needed supplies.
"Most of all we have an All-Star Board of Directors here who come from all walks of life, from the Director of Tilton School to local business people and parents. Their energy and passion to help change the lives of children in the Winnisquam school district has been incredible," said Cormier.