Karyn Kennedy can’t stop smiling.
The coordinator for the youth centre has been beaming since moving into the Woolwich Memorial Centre Aug. 24. After eight years, the youth centre finally has a space to call its own.
“It’s fantastic,” she said. “The kids are loving all the new games, they’re loving the space.”
The youth centre spent the summer operating in the council chambers of the former township administration building on Arthur Street following the demolition of the old arena.
When the doors to the new space opened Aug. 25, Kennedy had kids pressing their faces to the glass to peer in. There’s plenty to be excited about. Not only are they housed in a large, bright room, but they’ve got brand-new furnishings to go with it: leather couches and beanbag chairs, flatscreen monitors for the computers, another Nintendo Wii, a stereo system, an air hockey table, a DVD player and computer chairs.
“We’ve had a lot of hand-me-downs over the years,” Kennedy said. “Good hand-me-downs, we’re not knocking the hand-me-downs, but it’s nice to have new stuff.”
Funds for the new furniture and electronics came from an Ontario Trillium Fund grant worth $150,000, shared between user groups of the WMC.
Just down the hall, the seniors centre also benefitted from the Trillium funds.
The seniors centre was fully operational this week, with all of its programming up and running. The new centre can seat 80 for crokinole and card games like solo, cribbage, euchre and bridge.
In the shared community centre space, they offer shuffleboard and carpet pool, and there is a pool table and quilting frame at the back of the room.
“It’s a beautiful building; something to be proud of, that’s for sure,” said George Read, who lead the charge to make sure the seniors were included in the new building.
Although he’s pleased with the space, Read is concerned there isn’t enough of it. Because of budget constraints, the seniors’ centre was cut back from a planned 11,000 square feet to 7,000 square feet. At the same time, membership has been growing steadily since 2000, when the centre boasted 78 members.
“Our membership is improving every day now since going into the new building,” Read said. “Right now we’re at 215 members, and I would say by the end of the year, we should have close to 300. There are a lot of people interested in joining.”
Read handed out 40 applications during the grand opening celebrations last weekend, and he expects another surge of interest when the seniors’ centre hosts its own grand opening on Oct. 17.
“Down the road, I can’t see us having enough space with what we have now.”
The youth centre has also seen a jump in numbers. At the old arena, they would see anywhere from five to 20 kids in the evening; now Kennedy is signing in between 20 and 25 every night.
The youth centre has also expanded its hours; it’s now open Tuesday through Friday from 6 to 10 p.m. instead of just Thursday and Friday, and it’s open an extra two hours per day after school. From 3:30 to 4 p.m., all youth centre activities are available. The following hour is a quieter atmosphere for doing homework, reading or researching on the computers. The last half hour, all activities are available again.
Despite the jump in numbers, Kennedy said they have plenty of room to accommodate everyone, and could add more furniture if necessary.
“I don’t see an issue with space,” she said.