This post is part of our series of profiles on the 2015 Giraffe Award winners. This week, we are pleased to introduce you to the My Place Teen Center in Westbrook.
Located in Westbrook, My Place Teen Center provides more than a safe haven for youth living in the greater Portland area, it also provides an opportunity to develop relationships and skills long after the school day has ended. After identifying a distinct need in the area, the community came together to create a year-round, free after school program to serve youth in Southern Maine.
“Our overarching goal is to provide a safe, structured place for kids to develop resiliency, hope, and opportunities to have positive life-learning and academic-enriching experiences,” says President & CEO Donna Dwyer.
What makes My Place Teen Center so unique is its so-called “corporate mind-set.” Simply put, these kids are the future of Maine and the future workforce. Aside from doing the right thing, it is in everyone’s best interest to create a motivated and educated future workforce by investing in teens today. At the Maine Children’s Alliance, we have long said that what is good for Maine kids is also good for Maine’s economy.
Since opening its doors in 1998, My Place Teen Center has placed an emphasis on preparing students for the future by offering homework help, Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) programming, mental health support and essential life skills and leadership training. The program currently serves over 500 different teens annually, providing an estimated 14,500 meals.
On receiving a Giraffe Award, Dwyer says, “To be recognized by the Maine Children’s Alliance is most humbling for our team – ‘sticking our neck out for kids’ is something we are absolutely compelled to do and we are grateful to be known for this. Despite revenue shortfalls and the arduousness of running a nonprofit, we apply our own resilience and grit to ensure the happiness and safety of all the kids who walk through our big, red doors.”
My Place Teen Center will be awarded the 2015 Youth Giraffe Award for its services to the greater Portland youth community on October 27, 2015 at the Champions for Children Event. My Place Teen Center exemplifies the power of community action uniting to create a better Maine for our youth. It takes all of us to transform the future for Maine kids.