Check­ing out the new digs

Whit­ney Pier Youth Club of­fi­cially opens newly ex­panded space

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY EL­IZ­A­BETH PAT­TER­SON news@cb­

Whit­ney Pier Youth Club held an open house in its new build­ing on Satur­day.

She may have been the youngest guest speaker on the bill but seven-year-old Ava Carew prob­a­bly summed it up best why the new Whit­ney Pier Youth Club will be a suc­cess in the com­mu­nity.

“The best thing about the club is that it can fit more peo­ple,” Carew said on Satur­day at the grand open­ing of the club’s 111 West St. premises. “I’m here to­day be­cause I love the club and I re­spect it.”

About 200 peo­ple vis­ited the club on Satur­day to hear speeches from board mem­bers and vol­un­teers, to tour around the premises which are geared to­wards dif­fer­ent age groups and to even share a piece of cake. For Ch­ester Bor­den, the club’s ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor, open­ing day was a long time com­ing.

“You’re look­ing at over three years of fundrais­ing and 19 months from when we moved out un­til we moved back in,” said Bor­den, adding the dream to cre­ate a big­ger and bet­ter space started al­most a decade be­fore that. “It’s been a very long road. It aged me an ex­tra five years but it’s done.”

And even now, with a much big­ger club that can serve many more youth, it may not be enough.

“We’re al­most maxed out as we speak — we have right now reg­is­tered 145 kids — 80-plus el­e­men­tary kids and 45 ju­nior high and 20 high school,” said


Bor­den jokes that his new of­fice, com­plete with a shiny red “boss” mug and art­work filled with in­spi­ra­tional say­ings, is his fa­vorite spot but deep down, there’s another area that he feels sums up the club best.

“I think it’s the kitchen be­cause that’s the heart and soul of the club. We served last year over 13,000 meals and 22,000 snacks. I love the whole build­ing — I’m very happy to­day. I think they (the kids) re­ally en­joy it too.”

Sher­a­ton Sim­mons, 16, has been in­volved in the club for the past 13 years and now con­sid­ers it to be part of her sec­ond fam­ily.

“The club has done so much for me,” she says. “I vol­un­teer after school, evening pro­grams, when­ever pos­si­ble. The club is good be­cause it take in the youth — it shows them what is right, what is wrong. We mainly fo­cus on the one rule here — re­spect. You have re­spect for us, we’ll have it for you.”

Josh Dithur­bide, 16, says he con­sid­ers the club to be his sec­ond home. He also vol­un­teers reg­u­larly, com­ing ev­ery day after school to help the younger chil­dren. He says while the club may be big­ger now, it’s the spirit of the place that keeps him com­ing.

“Two years ago, this won­der­ful club was small, and did not have all the pro­grams that we have to­day. But that was OK be­cause kids still came to the club with smiles on their faces be­cause they knew the club was fun and ex­cit­ing. I’m here to help and to have fun.”

Pam Petrie, vice-pres­i­dent, sec­re­tary and board mem­ber of the club, be­came in­volved when her sons started go­ing to the club for taek­wondo and she now reg­u­larly spends 10 to 15 hours of her spare time each week vol­un­teer­ing her time. De­spite all the hard work, she says it’s been worth the ex­tra ef­fort.

“The day that the kids came in here when it opened, they were look­ing around and they were amazed. It was worth it just to see the looks on their faces. A lot of hard work and late nights but it was most def­i­nitely worth it.”


Peo­ple of all ages came to the Whit­ney Pier Youth Club on Satur­day to in­spect the premises after the club’s grand open­ing.






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