As the beneficiary of this year’s Beach to Beacon road race, a world-renowned annual trek along the Cape Elizabeth coast, My Place Teen Center in Westbrook was handed a check for $30,000 from race sponsor TD Bank.

According to Donna Dwyer, the executive director, the funds will go a long way toward supporting the organization, but, during the day-to-day operations at the center, it’s the intangibles that create the most momentum. That includes the heightened exposure for My Place Teen Center from such a high-profile event, taking place this Saturday, Aug. 6.

“One of the things that’s critical to any nonprofit’s success is awareness,” Dwyer said Tuesday. “The public relations aspect of it was a priceless gift.”

The growing center, which serves more than 500 kids throughout the year in its after-school programs, wants that growth to be smooth. This means funding extensive renovations to its aging former church building at 755 Main St., and expanding its programming.

At the center Tuesday, Dwyer said the funds from TD Bank have been set aside to be used toward a healthy cooking program, which includes culinary instruction. The organization, however, is still in the midst of a lengthy renovation project, and while the center is only a few weeks away from completing renovations to the building interior, Dwyer said, fundraising is continuing to pay for work on the outside of the building.

In the past week and a half, they’ve raised $32,000, and are only $18,000 away from their goal.

Each year, TD Bank’s charitable foundation gives a cash donation of $30,000 to a worthy nonprofit organization. Last year’s Beach to Beacon beneficiary was the Good Shepherd Food Bank of Maine.

Larry Wold, TD Bank president in Maine, announced the teen center as the 2016 benficiary during an event in February.

Wold said this week that he has high hopes for what the teen center can accomplish due to the exposure, including spreading the word about the successful model that the teen center uses. He said he hopes it can accomplish three things.

“The first would be that we support the ongoing, day-to-day, critical work the teen center does for our community through the cash contribution of $30,000. Secondly, we hope this raises the profile of My Place Teen Center so they are able to garner support from a wider audience. Lastly, I believe they provide a model which can be replicated in other communities and this exposure might facilitate that,” he said.

When announced as the beneficiary, the center was also given a limited number of race bibs to be used as a fundraising tool. The race routinely sells out in a matter of minutes. Dwyer had said the bibs would be sold for $960, the cost of funding one child for a year.

My Place Teen Center is open five days a week, year round, and specializes in serving at-risk youth, including disabled, homeless, food insecure, cognitively delayed, low-income, immigrant and refugee teens.

The center’s programming includes academic assistance such as tutoring, study skills, and science, technology, English, arts and math (STEAM) programs.

Other programming includes nutrition and food, which has been a big focus for the center in the last few years and has necessitated the fundraising for a renovated kitchen, especially as the volume of teens at the center grew.

This year’s Beach to Beacon 10K is the 19th iteration. It was founded by Maine running legend Joan Benoit Samuelson, winner of the first Olympic women’s marathon. According to the press release, the 2015 race featured a record-setting 6,602 runners from 15 countries, 41 states and more than 265 Maine cities and towns.

Dwyer said this week that the teen center will be closed Friday to participate in the  race’s weekend activities. She said many of the teens and the organization’s staff will be volunteering during the race, but will also be holding flags during the awards ceremony and other visibile roles.

“They’re involved in some pretty key ways at the event,” she said.

Donna Dwyer, executive director of My Place Teen Center, says kids from the center will be volunteering at the Beach to Beacon.

Larry Wold, the president of TD Bank, presents a check for $30,000 to My Place Teen Center earlier this year during an announcement event.


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