Milton Area Youth Center leader resigning this fall

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July 15, 2015

MILTON—It will take two people to fill Pamela Thomas' shoes when she leaves the Milton Area Youth Center this fall.

Since the center's inception in early 2011, Thomas has been a major component in its success, acting as its executive director. In its nearly 5 years of life, the center has had three locations and was homeless for about five months, but Thomas helped keep the community together through it all.

But now it's Thomas who is moving. She and her husband will relocate to Florida this fall in preparation for missionary work in the Bahamian slums.

“Pamela has done a wonderful job, but I can certainly understand the wish and desire to do what she wants to do,” said Tom Westrick, board president. “It's going to be hard to find someone to fill her shoes, but that's the nature of nonprofits.”

The youth center, which gives students a fun place to hang out after school, is hiring for two positions: director of community development and coordinator of activities and facilities. One will deal directly with children, while the other will handle fundraising and administrative responsibilities.

Thomas has been responsible for both until now, but splitting the job in two will give each employee the opportunity to concentrate on one component.

“I'm really excited about what that's going to look like when people focus on their skills and gifts in the job,” Thomas said.

She and Westrick will go over applications Friday and hire for the two positions by the end of July. Both employees will start in August.

Besides looking for new leaders, the youth center is in transition in other ways.

Thomas hopes the board will appoint a few more members, bringing the total from eight to 12.

Her No. 1 wish, however, is to move the center to a bigger location.

The center at 303 Vernal Ave. is a two-room building that allegedly was once a Milton Junction schoolhouse. The upstairs is packed with tables, chairs, toys, a pool table and a ping-pong table. Downstairs is a small kitchen, TV, computers, couches and chairs.

Add in about 30 kids during peak months, and the center quickly becomes noisy and overcrowded, Thomas said. The volume and cramped space forced the tutoring program to move to a donated trailer outside. Other ping-pong tables and equipment are in storage.

“We can make do in this building, (but) this building limits our growth and potential,” Thomas said. “I'm not worried about the youth center disappearing, but moving into a new building would mean a lot of growth.”

There's not a lot of available real estate in Milton that would fit the center's needs, she said. But Thomas isn't worried if the center can't relocate because the bond between the leaders, kids and parents is strong.

“The youth center as a whole, there's a sense of community,” Thomas said. “MAYC's a community. We're not a building. The kids that really embrace MAYC will follow us wherever we go.”

Even though Thomas knows she and her husband are being called to something new, leaving the support network of the center, area churches and the community will be hard.

“This is the hardest part of moving for me, for sure. I love the kids here. I love what I do here. I love the pioneering aspects of starting something up, starting something new. That has been a real joy of this job for me,” Thomas said.

The Milton Area Youth Center is closed for the rest of the summer. It reopens the first day of school and is open from 3 to 6 p.m. on school days.

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