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New members join staff at Pagosa Springs Youth Center

Pagosa Springs Youth Center staff is different every fall with the changing of AmeriCorps support staff.

This year, the new members meet and work with the outgoing staff to prepare for their year of service. The AmeriCorps year runs from Oct. 1, 2011 through Sept. 30, 2012. This opportunity is made possible by a regional grant through RSAPP (Regional Substance Abuse Prevention Partners).

Elizabeth Mieritz, AmeriCorps member, joins the team as a part-time afternoon youth advocate and prevention organizer. She will work with Archuleta County Victims Assistance violence prevention coordinator Liz Parker to provide activities that center around healthy lifestyle choices, especially around teen dating. Elizabeth will share in data collection and analyzing the needs of our members.

Tina Schroeder, an AmeriCorps member, has also joined part time to help with marketing and membership. Her part in the success of the center will be to create a membership base that uses the center for after-school programs, even if it is just to provide an opportunity for a youngster to stop in for a meal or snack. Tina will work on the website and Facebook site to keep the kids and the community up to date on activities. Again, youth engagement is key to a successful youth center.

Joanne “Jo” Ferko completed a successful year under her term of service as an AmeriCorps member and hopes that the basketball team continues to practice and play after she coordinated the acquisition of shirts and shoes. Jo brought a sewing component to the center schedule, and crafts were made and sold at the RAD Memorial Concert this past summer.

Soledad Leo Estrada will remain on staff as an assistant director at the center. Soledad continues to bring art to the youth. A collective collage of small square paintings is being assembled to hang in the center, along with the Martin Luther King mural Soledad did last year for the Skate Day for United Way. Soledad conducts an art class called “Art knows no Disability” for our Special Olympic athletes in Pagosa Springs.

Joanne Irons continues to be the director of the Pagosa Springs Youth Center, developing the sustainability and strategic plans necessary to keep the program going.

The center is a safe and drug-free place for students to meet after school Monday-Friday if they are 12-19 years of age. There are special programs and hours to fit the needs of other youth organizations or age groups.

The building itself was donated by Power House Ministries in January of 2009. Payment of program and building expenses relies on donations from the community and foundations, as well as grants.

If you have questions, or would like to volunteer or donate to the PSYC, call 264-5030 or 946-7545.

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