At their meeting Wednesday night, the Board of Selectmen enthusiastically threw their support behind Marblehead For Teens, a start-up nonprofit aiming to open a teen-managed teen center in Marblehead.
Appearing before the board was Executive Director and local resident Molly Williams, who said it was "a privilege and an honor" to be Marblehead For Teen's top representative.
"This initiative coming before the town of Marblehead is incredibly exciting and represents six years of very hard work on the part of this board," she said, adding, "this is more than just a teen center that is being launched, this is about a community response to a very widespread issue of concern to all of us concerning our youth."
Aside from scouting Marblehead for a spot to open the prospective teen center, Williams said the organization's next step is gaining the support of local residents and networking with local youth groups.
"We have had some very generous funders come forward with enough seed money to hire me so this initiative could go public," she said. "We're trying to open a safe place for kids to go to hang out in an unstructured format where they can develop their independence and resiliency skills in a nurturing environment that is safe for them."
Although there are already several organizations in town that offer spots for local teens to go after school, Williams pointed out that Marblehead For Teens would be the only place where they could go that would be run by them.
"Teens are at an age where they are developing a sense of independence and their identity and they need a forum to do this in a safe place and right now in town there is no safe place for them to go to that they can call their own," she said.
Getting the word out about the group's plan to open a teen center is one thing, coming up with the $300,000 it is expected to cost each year to keep it open is another.
"The other question people have been asking is 'how do you intend to fund this?' and the answer is that it is going to take a collective community effort," she said. "Right now this is a boot-strappin' start-up nonprofit at its finest."
The Board of Selectmen unanimously approved signing a document in support of the organization's goal and members took turns agreeing that Marblehead would benefit from a safe place for teens to congregate.
Residents interested in supporting Marblehead For Teens can send checks to: Marblehead For Teens, 11 Atlantic Ave., second floor; visit the group's Facebook Page; or call Williams at 978-998-0285.