Niagara Gazette

February 17, 2014

Salvation Army to reopen LaSalle-area youth center

by Mia Summerson
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Brynn Dixon, a 10-year-old with a passion for music, has already found a reason to spend time at the Salvation Army on Buffalo Avenue. There she practices dance, singing and playing musical instruments.

Come March 3, however, Brynn is going to have a whole new reason to come to the Salvation Army. In 1996 the first youth center program was developed, which fell by the wayside. This year they’re giving it another try.

“I’m actually really excited. There’s going to be more to do and it will be a lot of fun,” Brynn said smiling. “I think I’ll tell my friends to come.”

According to Major Corinne Hayes, pastor at the Salvation Army, the youth center is being reopened under the name Eileen Piercey, to show respect to a woman who Haynes says was always dedicated to bettering the community for children.

While the new youth center will have the normal amenities such as a gym and a game room, they will also be offering classes to the children that come in. If they love music like Brynn, they could participate in band, singing or dancing lessons.

The Salvation Army will also offer life skills classes as well as parenting classes for anyone who may need or want to take them. All the classes and activities are free of charge and open to anyone that would like to give it a shot.

“We wanted to give the youth of the LaSalle community more than just a parking lot to play basketball in,” Hayes said. “We are very much looking to expand what we offer the kids, and with not much publicity, we are getting a response from the community.”

Hayes added that parents are thrilled to have a safe place for kids to come hang out that keeps them off the streets and promotes more productive activities.

“I’m glad they’re reopening, as a parent it’s nice to have a safe place in the community for kids to go,” said Brynn’s mother, Judy Dixon. “It will help keep kids away from drugs, smoking and alcohol and keep them off the streets.”

According to Hayes, this will be one of the only after-school programs that kids can attend within the LaSalle area.

While she says the Salvation Army has an idea of what they will offer to the kids, she says she hopes the youth center will continue to grow and adapt to activities the kids want to do and topics they’d like to learn about.

The Eileen Piercey Youth Center will hold its grand opening at 5 p.m. on March 3, complete with ribbon cutting ceremony and a performance by the Salvation Army’s band.