Celebrating 25 Years

It’s hard to believe, but on May 18 My Place Teen Center will celebrate its 25th Anniversary! Think of it: Thousands of kids mentored, kept safe, loved, fed, and shown a different path. And we could not have made it this far without the support of our volunteers, benefactors, the Cities of Westbrook and Biddeford, and so many kind friends like you! So as we reflect on the magnitude of this auspicious anniversary, we want to send our most gracious thanks. 

What is possible in 25 Years?

Some of the work we do at My Place Teen Center is unquantifiable – the smile on a young person’s face when they accomplish something they never thought they could do. The feeling of relief knowing a child is in a safe, nurturing place when they could be on the streets. The sense of community created when the friends and family of My Place Teen Center come out to serve a meal, plant a garden, or mentor our teens.

And then there is the work we can tally up. In 25 years, My Place Teen Center has served over 210,000 hot meals to kids who might not have access to enough healthy food at home. Every year, we deliver 1,300 hours, per child, of curricular support and tutoring to at-risk teens. Every day, we help up to 100 teens with a curriculum that fosters grit and resilience – teens that otherwise risk getting caught up in drugs and alcohol.

All of these things, the quantifiable and the unquantifiable, are possible because of people like you.

As we prepare for our 25 Year Anniversary, we ask for your continued support of My Place Teen Center, and our anniversary on May 18, 2023. There are many ways to celebrate this anniversary with a donation — representing the cost of delivering our comprehensive enrichment program to our teens. Are you in a place to guarantee 25 local teens Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math enrichment? Can you provide funding for 10 at-risk kids to take music and art lessons, and to have a warm meal every day? Will you raise the funds for 5 middle schoolers to enroll in the Youth Leadership Academy, and set them up for success in their high school years? Can one teen count on you as they make the choice to hang out in an inclusive, structured, and safe after-school community?

We thank you for your consideration and your continued support. We look forward to celebrating with you this year! 

Yes, I would like to celebrate 25 years with a donation.

I wish to donate the following tax-deductible amount to the MPTC Fund:

An Inspiring Past

My Place Teen Center was founded in 1998 after a survey in the public schools indicated teens were drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana at alarming rates. Leaders from schools, churches, and the city government took a multifaceted approach to the problem, focusing on community education and awareness programs, and creating My Place Teen Center — then Mission Possible Teen Center. 

Dana Warp Mill housed the original Teen Center, an inviting space that featured a “cafe” for snacks, some computers and TVs for video games and TV shows, and space for teens to just hang out in a safe, supervised environment. Bruce Dyer, a substance abuse counselor at Westbrook High School, helped found the Teen Center. “The idea was to create a place where all kids could come together, have fun and engage in activities where they could learn and grow,” he said. The Teen Center was an instantaneous success, but over time it became apparent that the program’s long-term viability required a skilled director.

“To sustain a program like the Teen Center you need someone like Donna, who combines the business acumen of an MBA-type person with the kindness and empathy of the social worker,” he said. As grants have dried up and other community initiatives have come and gone, My Place Teen Center has survived – and thrived. What was once a simple afterschool program is now a model of delivering academic, leadership, and social/emotional skills to its teens. Warm meals are served in sit-down, family-style meals. There is a safety net, a helping hand, a community for every teen. 

Today, Bruce continually refers kids to the Teen Center from Westbrook High School, he says, kids who otherwise would be in unsupervised environments that are conducive to drug and alcohol use. “Some of these kids might not have somebody at home when they get home, “ he said. The sense of accountability teens establish at My Place Teen Center can make a life-changing — and life-saving – difference for kids. “The kids that are going to the center are the kids that want and need to be there,” Bruce said.