A dream becoming a planned reality

Members of the Youth Center Task Force review progress made to date on renovating the basement of the First Congregational Church on Canton Avenue in Milton.

(Photo by Elaine Cushman Carroll)

The anticipation was building as members of the Youth Task Force toured the ongoing transformation of the space at First Congregational Church that is set to open as soon as Dec. 2 as an after school drop-in center for middle school students.

Among those touring the facility was newly hired Youth Coordinator Mark Pendarvis, a retired teacher who recently moved to Milton.

The church is rehabilitating the space at its own expense in order to provide the much-needed location for children in Grades 6, 7 and 8 weekdays from 2:30 to 6 p.m.

“We’re almost there,” said Mike Zullas at the Nov. 6 Select Board meeting.

Zullas, who serves as chair of the Select Board and liaison to the Task Force, said, “This is a great example of this community coming together and addressing a need.”

The Select Board also approved a lease with First Congregational that calls for the town to pay $342 a month to offset operating expenses. The lease covers 10 months of the year and will run through June, 2022.

Select Board member Richard Wells, meanwhile, said he was pleased that the lease also includes possible hours for high school and other programs on Friday and Saturday.

During the Task Force’s tour of the facility on Nov. 4, Pendarvis greeted Task Force members including Scott MacKay, who is also a parks commissioner.

The program was established in cooperation with the Youth Task Force and will be run through the town’s Parks and Recreation Department.

Youth Task Force Chair Sarah Callahan said members are “thrilled” that Pendarvis accepted the position.

“Our community is so lucky to have Mark take on this role given his experience working with teens, families, and administrators,” she said. “He brings such great energy and an obvious understanding of the type of experience our teens are looking for. We look forward to introducing Mark to the community, especially our middle school students, over the coming weeks.”

Pendarvis recently moved to Milton with his wife, who was raised in Milton, after an early retirement from teaching Spanish in the Cape Elizabeth, Maine schools for over 20 years

Pendarvis said he started his teaching career in the Brockton Public Schools before moving on to positions in Boston and Maine.

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