Susan Johnston was elated on the evening
of October 13 when about two dozen teens from the area dropped in to take
part in a special social evening at the Valley East Youth Centre.
For Susan, who has seen both the highs and
the lows during the 25 years she has been involved with the Centre, it was
music to her ears to listen to the young people filling the rooms with
laughter and conversation.
Today, as Chairperson for the Board of
Directors, Sue finds herself facing an uphill battle to keep the centre
open. At the present time the facility is open to youth on Friday evenings
only, from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.
She is hopeful that a new City Council may
place a higher priority on youth and will perhaps provide sufficient
funding so that she can once again hire two staff and keep the facility
open five days a week.
shown on the right, the only other active Board member with the Valley
East Youth Centre along with Susan Johnson, is convinced that they can
once again bring the Youth Centre back to where it was when it was at the
height of its popularity.
"Many people have given up on the Valley East Youth Centre, but
Susan and I just wouldn't throw in the towel. We are going to keep
fighting and plugging away to keep this Centre open and provide young
people with a place where they can have some good, wholesome entertainment
and meet with their friends."
Mike and Nicole Savoie, of Hanmer, were parents who had heard all kinds
of bad things about the Valley East Youth Centre. "When we told some
of our friends that our son wanted to go to the Youth Centre, they warned
us to keep him away. We told them that we were not just going to drop him
off, but that we were going to visit the place and check it out first. Now
that we've seen the place and met with Susan and Darlene, we are very
happy with what we saw."
In fact, both Mike and Nicole have offered to volunteer to help out in
any way possible to ensure that the Centre continues to function. "If
you have any negative perceptions of the Valley East Youth Centre, all you
have to do is visit it once and your perceptions will change,"
indicated Nicole, who is a teacher at Ecole Secondaire Hanmer.
We took a few pictures of the young people in their activities at the
Centre. Click here to see some of those photos
The City of Greater Sudbury owns the building, so that is at least
helping to keep the Youth Centre going with volunteers such as Sue
Johnston. However, it is likely going to be up to the Corporate Sector to
step in with private sector funding if this community is going to continue
to have a Youth Centre much longer.
The Valley East Youth Centre needs the help of the community. If anyone
is interested in stepping forward, call and leave a message for Sue
Johnston. She is willing to listen to anyone who is in a position to help
out. And right now, Sue could sure use a helping hand.