There's a consortium in Western Erie County that's been serving the youth in that area for many years. It's looking forward to a wonderful 2023.   That's a great thing because it was unknown if that service would still be around this year.

It’s the Northwestern Community Youth Center in Albion. The youth center opened a building on East State Street in 2006. 15 years later, in 2021, the board received some alarming news. Board Member Bob Pettis remembers that day.

"The gentleman who owned the building, who was actually renting the building to us, decided he wanted to move in another direction.  Consequently, we either had to stop the program totally or purchase the building."

It was a tough decision. Purchase the building or dissolve the entire operation. It was all or nothing. The center was giving kids a place to go and things to do after school.   But, could the board afford the costs of owning the building?

"In fact, the discussion among the board members was pretty intense because our budget up to that point was nominal,” recalls Bob. "Did we want to see this drop?  Because we had seen over the years the impact, the positive impact, that we've had."

Tasha Williams is the director at the youth center.

"We have single moms in the area.  So, a lot of those kids come here and have somewhere safe and get food.   They come here to be safe and they have fun and be a kid,” she says.

The board decided to purchase the building.  It continues to be a popular haven for young people in the Albion area. The board must conduct periodical fund raisers to meet the additional costs. There has been a golf tournament and bingo.  The youth center just finished raffling a beautifully restored pickup truck. The board also has received financial grants from agencies such as the Erie Community Foundation and the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority.

"It was a two-edged sword,” says Bob. “We couldn't get funding for improvements to the building because we didn't own the building.  But since we own the building, there are things we can do."  

There's plans to renovate a meeting room for things ranging from bible study to concerts. There's plans to expand the gym so there will be more room for basketball and soccer. Yes. 2023 will be a wonderful year at the youth center.

The Northwestern Community Youth Center was founded by a consortium comprised of the Northwestern School District, local churches, and several municipalities in the area. Representatives from those groups still make-up the board of directors.   As many as 30 kids attend special events at the center.  10 to 15 kids show up every day.