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    Saturday, September 21, 2019-3:18:10P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Rep. Babauta ‘adopts’ Tanapag Youth Center; will offer more community programs

REPRESENTATIVE Sheila Babauta of Precinct 4 on Thursday said her office, through an agreement with the Division of Youth Services, has adopted the Tanapag Youth Center.

She said she wants the center to offer more activities and programs in the northern part of the island.

But she also wants to see many volunteer opportunities for all members of the community.

Babauta said she is excited to learn that many existing youth programs have expressed interest in extending their reach to the north.

So far, she said they have been connected with the Public School System free meals program, Joeten-Kiyu Public Library, the Youth Affairs Office, NMI Forestry, Northern Marianas College-Cooperative Research and Extension Education Services, the Bureau of Environmental Coastal Quality and local artists and dance instructors.

“We aim to have an activity or program offered each day at the youth center,” Babauta said, adding that she would also like to start a community garden and offer training on résumé-building, interview-preparation among other subjects.

These are among the free programs already offered by government agencies and non-profit organizations, she said.

If there’s any cost involved, Babauta added, it should be very minimal and her office will sponsor a community member’s participation.

Babauta invites all organizations to contact her office should they like to conduct an outreach at the Tanapag center.

Tanapag Youth Center.  Contributed photoTanapag Youth Center. Contributed photo

She said the goal is to keep the center open for as many hours as possible. The youths need a safe place to socialize, read and participate in existing programs, she said.

“I wish we have youth centers in all villages, but right now, our mission is to utilize existing structures and support the respective agencies,” she added.

Babauta thanked Department of Community and Cultural Affairs Secretary Robert Hunter and his staff as well as the Division of Youth Services for keeping an open mind and supporting the idea of partnering with her office.

“We’ve signed a [memorandum of agreement] that will allow my office the ability to access the Tanapag center and schedule various programs and activities to offer our community. We will be responsible for volunteer intake and scheduling as well,” she said.

Asked about the impact of the austerity measures on the program, Babauta said the original plan was to have the center open from Monday to Saturday, with summer hours and then after-school hours when the new school year starts.

Unfortunately, she added, they will have to comply with austerity measures and open the center from Monday to Thursday only.

“Since a reduced work-week will be implemented, we are counting on our community members to volunteer and contribute their time for our youth,” Babauta said.

All volunteers must be certified by DYS to ensure they meet grant requirements.

“Safety and liability are always the priority when children are involved. We want to reassure parents and community members that your children will be safe and will be surrounded by responsible adults,” Babauta said.

Those who wish to volunteer at the Tanapag Youth Center may contact community organizer Edilynn Benjamin at rep.sbabauta@gmail.com or 285-7921.