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Dorchester teen center rededicated


Andrea Lopes and Orlando Gonsalves work in the Connors Family Resource Center of Catholic Charities’ Teen Center at St. Peter’s on Feb. 24. The center, which provides academic, career and social programs to Dorchester teens was renovated and rededicated as part of the Archdiocese’s 2010 Initiative. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

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DORCHESTER -- The rededication of the newly renovated Catholic Charities’ Teen Center at St. Peter’s on Feb. 24 drew high-proilfe guests such as Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, Boston mayor Thomas Menino, State Sen. Jack Hart and former Celtics player M.L. Carr.

Located in Dorchester, Catholic Charities’ Teen Center at St. Peter’s provides academic, career and social programs to more than 250 teenage members ages 12-18. Approximately 150 young people participate in after-school activities that include homework assistance, sports leagues, college preparation and dance and music classes. The Teen Center at St. Peter’s also facilitates small groups where teens can discuss social pressures in a safe environment. Family fun nights are held to involve the teens’ families with games, cultural activities and refreshments.

The renovations were made possible through the support of the Campaign for Catholic Schools, the 2010 Initiative for Catholic Education, and the Yawkey Foundation and include new computer equipment and youth development programming provided by WARM2Kids. The Teen Center at St. Peter’s offers Boston teens a safe environment in which to focus on academics and recreation during after-school hours.

As one of the projects funded by the Yawkey Foundation’s $15 million grant to the Campaign for Catholic Schools in 2008, $4 million went to complete renovations to the Teen Center, including a new library and classrooms, a new gymnasium, recreation room, dance studio and family center.

The renovated building is a reminder that despite the economic crisis, the needs of children come first, said Jack Connors, chairman of the Campaign for Catholic Schools.

“This is very special in its ordinariness,” said Connors. “This is how we’re supposed to work, this is what we are supposed to do, and this is what happens when you round up the people who really care,” he said.

“We hope that the new and improved Teen Center will further the great work already taking place there every day,” said Connors. “We are committed to the revitalization of Catholic schools throughout the archdiocese so that opportunities like this wonderful Teen Center will be available for all the young people in Boston.”

The president of Catholic Charities, Tiziana Dearing, remarked that the center provides the youth with the opportunity to be the future of our commonwealth, but that it is nothing more than giving them the environment they deserve.

Mayor Thomas Menino extended his gratitude to Catholic Charities and the Campaign for Catholic Schools for their commitment to the center’s neighborhood, “especially during these times when resources are so scarce,” he said.

“The renovated Teen Center will be an invaluable space for our youth to learn and grow in a safe, nurturing and fun environment,” said Menino.

Paulo De Barros, the Teen Center’s Program Director, said he was overwhelmed at the generosity of Catholic Charities and the Campaign for Catholic Schools made possible by the Yawkey Foundation, whose $15 million grant funded the center’s renovations.

“There wasn’t any money, but that didn’t stop anybody,” said De Barros. “The kids asked for a place where they could study, play and grow and it was given to them,” he said.

James Healey, president and trustee of the Yawkey Foundations, said it is his ultimate goal that the foundation support programs and initiatives that have an immediate, significant and positive impact on the quality of life of youth, families and the underserved members of our community.

“Being here at the Teen Center and seeing the many activities and academic programs available to teens confirms that our support of the Campaign for Catholic Schools is an important investment in the deserving young people of Boston,” said Healey. “The Teen Center is a homerun for us.”

With 100 percent high school graduation rate of its members and a 90 percent MCAS/TOEFL pass-rate, the Teen Center offers over 250 teens a safe-place to participate in after school activities that include homework assistance, sports leagues, college preparation and dance and music classes. The center aims to provide the teens with the skills they need for academic success, while keeping them out of neighborhood gangs and enhancing their perceptions of the world and the way they envision their future.

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