For almost a year, organizers of an activities center have embarked on an uphill struggle in search of support, donations and a place to call home.

Now it appears they have the home.

The organizers, a group of area adults and teens, are close to completing a deal to rent space in the Mount Airy Shopping Center on Ridge Avenue. The group plans to sign a two-year lease, perhaps this week, to rent 8,500 square feet in the shopping center, operated by Ronald Cohen Management Inc.

"We're really pleased," said Barbara Schifter, who's heading the effort to establish the center. "We can certainly use it (the space)."

The group will operate the Mount Airy Community Center at the location, next to Rite-Aid, with a variety of activities tentatively planned to begin the third week of June, aftersome renovation is completed.

Initially, the center will be open to youths on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings for pool, video games, table tennis and other activities, Schifter said. Aerobics classes also will be offered, with morning sessions for adults and evening classes for adults and teens.

Also, the group's second teen dance is planned for June 29 at the center. The first dance, conducted inApril at the volunteer fire company's activities center, was a big success and bolstered the determination of the organizers, Schifter said. About 230 youths attended the event.

"We were going to be satisfied with 100," she said.

The first dance was open to 13- to 15-year-olds, but 16-year-olds also will be invited to the June event. The one condition is that teens remain at the center until the conclusion of the dance, unless their parents pick them up. The dance, like the first one, will be chaperoned by several adult volunteers.

Teens aren't the only ones who will get to enjoy dances at the new location.

An adult dance, complete with a disc jockey playing music fromthe '50s and '60s, is set for July 13. The dance will be a non-drinking, non-smoking event, Schifter said.

Also, the local Teen Club will use the new location for weekly meetings. The group had been meeting at Watkins Park.

The idea to establish a community center camelast summer from a group of area teens who were fed up with the summertime blues in a town that, they say, of

fers little for them to do.

With direction from several adults, a core group of about 10 teens began raising money to get their project off the ground.

One of the objectives is to have the center managed and operated largely by area youth, with supervision and guidance from adults. But the organizers hope to eventually offer programs for all ages.

Though a location has been found, there still is plenty of work for the organizers. Since the center operates on donations of time and money from local businesses, civic groups, churches and other organizations, fund-raising efforts are never-ending, Schifter said.

During the past year, the teens have been busy selling candy bars, stationery and Christmas cards to raise seed money.

The group also is seeking donations of labor and materials for the construction of a stage and room partitions for the new center. Adult volunteers are being sought to supervise the center so that hours can be expanded. In addition, organizers are looking for a college student to work for the summer as a full-time supervisor.

For more information about the center, or to inquire about donating time or money, call 829-9521.

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