BIDDEFORD – Saco & Biddeford Savings has gifted $50,000 to support the Biddeford expansion of My Place Teen Center. The funds will be used toward renovation and furnishings for the new location at 75 Bacon St, which is projected to open in 2023.

The bank is the latest to contribute to the establishment of the new teen center to be located in the former St. Andre Church, now owned by the Biddeford Housing Authority. Last month, York County Commissioners voted to approve contributing up to $1.5 million in American Rescue Plan funds toward the project.

In a letter supporting the project, Biddeford Mayor Alan Casavant noted the city has several programs aimed at youth, but that still, too many young people fall between the cracks.

“My fear, and the fear of councilors, is that there are too many teens in my city who have no supervision after schools, as parents are working or, sadly, ‘not engaged,’” he said.

When the ARP funding was announced, about $200,000 to $250,000 was still needed, along with about $650,000 worth of in-kind support.

Building renovations are projected to cost about $2.7 million.

The first MPTC opened 23 years ago in Westbrook to help youth there. Noting striking similarities between Westbrook and Biddeford, MPTC representatives thought a new center in Biddeford would be advantageous for area youth.

The Center has been campaigning to open another set of red doors in neighboring Biddeford to expand services to upward of 1,000 children and 20,000 meals per year.

“Seventy-five Bacon (Street)  is a massive project requiring cross-sector partnerships and community goodwill,” said Donna Dwyer, president and CEO of My Place Teen Center. “Nothing smacks more of down-home neighborliness than the care SBS exhibits daily. We are grateful for their amazing support.”

“MPTC first came to our attention through the community support efforts of our Westbrook branch and impressed us with their dedication and compassion,” said Bob Quentin, president and CEO of Saco & Biddeford Savings. “Biddeford and the surrounding region are fortunate to be part of this expansion, bringing the great work that MPTC does in providing important support to youths in our communities.”

St. Andre Church was part of a package of properties purchased by Biddeford Housing Authority in 2014. BHA Executive Director Guy Gagnon said BHA and My Place Teen Center will share ownership of the former St. Andre’s. Church. He said BHA is considering housing and other options for the basement of the property.

In May, My Place Teen Center secured funding for programs in the Biddeford-Saco area for youth aged 14–18, and is temporarily located in the Saco Valley Shopping Center.

My Place Teen Center’s mission is to provide a safe haven for youth, ages 10 through 18, sustaining them with comfort, meals, resources and hope. The vision is that all youth will have the academic, job readiness, and life skills necessary to lead independent adult lives filled with stewardship, courage, passion and joy.

To learn more about My Place Teen Center, visit: https://myplaceteencenter.org/

Staff Writer Tammy Wells contributed to this story.

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