PARRSBORO – Having nothing to do is no longer a problem for young people in Parrsboro.
The town's new youth centre opened officially to cheers and applause from a large crowd gathered at its Main Street location on Aug. 10, ending months of work and planning by community volunteers, both youth and adults.
"I think people are going to be here every day," said J.B. Tambeau, vice-president of the Parrsboro Youth Town Council. "I know I'm going to be one of those teens, and it's going to change this town into a more positive aspect. It's great. This is awesome."
J.B. joined youth council president Audriana Smith in cutting the ribbon with Tom and Sharon Brown, parents who led the volunteer effort; business owner Amber Brewer, who donated the space; Cumberland South MLA Jamie Baillie and Parrsboro Mayor Lois Smith.
Many townspeople were on hand for the event, and toured the facility, which includes large-screen televisions, gaming consoles, and much more.
Audriana said she expects to see the centre well used by the town's youth population.
"I think it will be a bit of a hangout place," she said. "But it's better to have them here hanging out, than on the streets, because here they can put their energy into something positive."
The youth themselves will be part of an executive council that will oversee the operation of the youth centre, which Mr. Brown declared "open for business" immediately following the ribbon-cutting. The town's young people were also part of the volunteer effort that went into the youth centre's creation, from planning and designing what t would be, to getting their hands dirty with the drywall work and other necessary renovations to the space.
"The junior council decided what we wanted to see in here when we opened the doors, and this is practically everything we ever thought of," said J.B.
Much credit was given to the Brown family, which has been pursuing the idea of a youth centre since they lost their 17-year-old daughter Courtney to suicide in March of last year. The Browns have not only been at the facility day and night to lead the work project, but have also garnered valuable donations of time, effort and money.
Mr. Brown spread the credit around, offering special thanks to many contributors, including his wife Sharon and son Chad, youths Gage Shea and Sherman McGrath for their tireless efforts, Const. Dal Hutchinson and his family for steady support, Harold McGrath, and the youth town council, as well as Amber Brewer and her father, who donated all of the electrical work.
He also offered thanks to the many donors, including Fundy Building Supplies, Harrison's Home Hardware, Castle Building Supplies, the Town of Parrsboro, Ship's Company Theatre, Crossroads Co-Op, the Parrsboro Citizens' Band, the Parrsboro Lions Club, and many individuals, including one anonymous donor who provided $24,000 worth of furniture and office equipment.
That continued community support will be necessary in the years ahead, according to Hutchinson, who added that the facility is still in need of a heat pump to heat the building in the winter and cool it in the summer.
"We have something here that is special and unique, and we have youth in the community that are going to take ownership of this centre," said Hutchinson. "We're going to see this continue, but we're going to need a lot of support from adults in this community."
Baillie described the event as a day of sunshine in a community that has seen some dark times, and spurred a great round of applause for the Brown family in crediting them for rallying through those dark times and creating something positive for the town.
"It takes a community to keep our kids safe, give them activities to do, and keep them in a safe zone, we have learned that," he said. "This is just such a great example of what we can do together... rise up for our children, for the future, and hope for tomorrow. That's what this is all about."