By Jeanne Sager
CALLICOON September 27, 2002 Folks in the Callicoon area are in for a surprise in their mailbox next week.
It seems the Delaware Youth Center, the center of the town for more than 50 years, has some friends in high places.
And the Friends of the Delaware Youth Center, as the members of the facilitys new special fundraising committee are calling themselves, are on a mission.
According to Rease Roche and Craig Schumacher, two of the founding members of the committee, the group hopes to pull the local community together around the youth center and raise enough money to keep it going.
And theyre starting with mailers that will be sent out next week asking local residents who grew up splashing in the community pool and racing down the slide at the local playground to help keep the center running.
The people whove lived here have had it basically for nothing, Roche noted. Dr. George Mills started the pool because too many people were drowning in the river.
And the other benefactors of Mills generation put money into the facility to keep it open for the community. But, Roche continued, that community involvement has seemed to wane over the years.
There were a lot of guys who did an awful lot for this town, and did it quietly, Roche explained. But weve really kind of skipped a generation.
The centers board of trustees announced last year that they were in dire financial straits as the community moved further and further away from its center.
Founded in 1949 with funds from some of the communitys biggest benefactors, the youth center has always subsisted on membership fees and donations from the community.
But a huge repair project a few years ago wiped out the boards savings a huge thing for a center that costs about $70,000 per year to run (from insuring Grover Hermann Hall to heating the pool).
And when they asked for money, the community responded in a big way.
According to Youth Center President Tess McBeath, a challenge grant from the Madeline Shobrys Glosten Memorial Fund was sent out to the community this summer. And residents responded with $17,700. When added to the matching money from the memorial fund, the youth center tallied up a total of $22,700 to keep the center running.
The donations far exceeded our expectations, McBeath noted. Our area is a wonderful place to live because people rally behind a call for help.
That money will be used to help with improvement projects at the center, but they need more money to keep it running a lot more.
And thats where the Friends of the Youth Center come in.
Roche, Schumacher and the other members of the committee hope to obtain five-year commitments from the communitys residents, raising enough money over the next few years to put the funds in the bank and run the center off of the interest.
Money will be set aside for improvements of the facility so the board can save its money to use for the day-to-day necessities. The mission of the project named Leave a Legacy by the friends is to create a fund that will provide money for capital improvements, thereby ensuring the survival of the Delaware Youth Center, according to the mailer that will arrive in post office boxes next week.
It will help them help themselves, Schumacher explained.
The group is afraid to see the youth center, which is a vital link to so many residents past, go under.
I swam in the pool as a kid, my kids all swam in the pool, Roche explained.
Its a gathering place for so many different functions, Schumacher added. Its a focal point of the community.
When the center was dedicated in 1949, George Mills told the community members, This is your community, your playground, your non-profit organization.
Continue to support it as you have in the past, and your community will be the envy of larger places.
And thats what the friends hope to do.
If youre looking back 53 years, you can draw on a lot of people whove used the youth center, Schumacher explained. There was the Callicoon Cougars, baseball and softball games, reunions and dances.
On Monday nights they had a mens basketball league there, he recalled.
Theres just been so many affairs there, Roche added.
And the friends hope the funds earned through the Leave a Legacy project will help rebuild the playing fields and other facilities so people will return to the center.
The truth is, Roche noted, the field needs work to play softball on it again.
And Grover Hermann Hall needs work on the acoustics, the floor, the kitchen facilities.
It all takes a lot of money and needs a lot of attention.
Our idea is to make it more appealing so people will go there again, Schumacher said.
According to McBeath, this is just the kind of thing the facility has needed for years.
As a group of volunteers, we appreciate the help the center has been receiving from the community, she noted. Its often discouraging to us how hard we work at fundraising just to keep the facility running, much less any major repairs.
This group will help finance the future, she added. We welcome their efforts, and hope people will continue to support this great facility that were so fortunate to have.
To donate to keep the youth center alive, residents can fill out the pledge card that will go out in the mail next week. Tax-deductible donations can be sent to The Delaware Youth Center Special Fund Raising Committee, P.O. Box 382, Callicoon, NY 12723.