The Salamanca Youth Bureau has served Salamanca and the surrounding communities for 35 years. The youth bureau, located at 36 South Ave., Salamanca, is a free program for children, offering its activities and services at no cost to parents. It is open 2:30-6 p.m. each Monday-Friday for any child between 5-18-years old. The bureau currently averages visits from about 40 children each day. “We are around 9,000 visits on the year with 216 days of service,” said Sandi Brundage, director at the bureau. The center has conference rooms, a gymnasium, computer room and recreation room. The recreation room includes video and board games and pool and air hockey tables.
In the summertime, the youth bureau partners with Community Action Agency to offer the free summer lunch program. The program enables any child, 18-years-old or younger, to receive free lunch. Last year, the bureau started an initiative to provide food for the weekend to children faced with food security issues. The initiative, Pack a Backpack, is made possible through food donations and grants and partners with the Salamanca schools to identify children in need.
In September 2010, the youth bureau lost three staff people and curtailed its hours when it faced a major funding cut. However, it has recently collaborated with Chautauqua opportunities to acquire a grant. “We’re hoping to hire a couple of people using grant money and be open until 8:30 each night,” said Brundage, who has been the bureau’s director for more than seven years.
Since last year’s funding cuts, Brundage said that she has been impressed with the city’s creative support. “The city has gotten very creative,” she said. For example, when a staff person resigned earlier this year, the city created four part-time positions instead of filling the empty position with just one person. This permitted the bureau to hire an individual to take care of maintenance and housekeeping needs that were previously completed by the same staffers that cared for the children, said Brundage. “The city is trying to do more with less and it has really benefited us,” she added.
“People really appreciate the services that we offer,” said Brundage. “Sometimes the children are our best advocates,” she said as she described a donation that arrived to the youth bureau earlier this week. A woman, whose grandson attends the youth bureau, donated many handmade hats and gloves. It was her grandson’s idea to donate them to the youth center.
Monetary donations are tax-deductible and may be made out to the not-for-profit organization, Friends of Salamanca Youth Center. The center may also benefit from donations of furniture, recreational equipment, food, hats, gloves and other clothing. Monetary donations may be mailed to the center at 36 South Ave., Salamanca, N.Y. 14779. For more information or with questions about donating or the center’s programs, call the center at (716) 945-1311.“It’s a confusing world out there, especially when you’re a little kid,” said Brundage. “That’s really what it’s all about- helping kids out.”