THE EDGEWOOD Multi-Purpose Youth Center at 2200 Cedar Drive in Edgewood is a non-profit organization established in 1981 to serve teens and pre-teens in the Edgewood, Joppa, Magnolia and Abingdon areas of Harford County.
The center provides the opportunity for youth to interact with adults and other teens in recreation, for counseling, tutoring and for information and referral of available community services.
Membership to the center is free, and members are eligible for participation in all sports. One-on-one tutoring is given upon request by the student or his parents. Others come in as referrals from the Social Services Department. Counseling is also available upon request. All is free to the members, paid for with state and federal funds.
Volunteers work in every department at the center, where the staff includes Madeleine Grant, director; Mamie McKoy, administrative assistant; Brian Ellsworth, recreation administrator at the center since it began, and Barbara Mitchell, counselor.
Volunteers, ages 18 and over, are a big success at the center. Members of the community assist with programs and activities, provide assistance and guidance and serve as recreation aides, tutors, chaperones, office assistants and public relations. Others come in to teach their skills to the members.
Dorothy Zeller, who lives in Joppatowne, has volunteered as a tutor to the center for four years.
A retired registered nurse, she says she volunteered as a result of an ad the center had put in the local newspaper. Previously she had volunteered as a counselor for Medicare patients.
She teaches English, reading and math to three students every Tuesday and four on Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
''The students have come on their own or at the request of their parents, and most are here because they want to maintain good grades,'' she says.
Zeller is jolly and gentle and blessed with an excellent sense of humor. She laughs a lot and jokes about her age. ''When the students ask me how old I am, I'll tell them I'm more than eight times eight. One of my youngsters must have been multiplying because he told his mother 'she is really old','' says this 66-year-old who has two children, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
''I am also having a learning period,'' she says. ''Teaching math has been a learning time. I should have recorded some of our classes. To explain feet to one little student who was having a terrible time, I cut out the pattern of a foot to use as a 12-inch ruler and then had a yardstick and we pasted the feet on it to prove to her that there really were three feet in one yard. I've used my diet scales, a bag of beans and just about anything you can imagine to teach math.''
A special thrill for her is a young Korean boy who could not speak English when he arrived,''and now after some work he is talking and reading. We have gone from a pre-school book to more complicated stories, and it is so nice,'' she says.
Mamie McKoy, the center's administrative assistant, says there are approximately 370 members of the center and most take full advantage of coming there. ''We can always use volunteers, particularly those who will bring special skills to teach the children,'' she says.
Like all effective programs for youth, the center's aim is to make a positive difference in the lives of its members.
Hours are from 2:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; from 1 to 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. It is closed on Sunday and Monday.
To volunteer or to discuss membership to the Edgewood Multi-Purpose Youth Center, call 676-1020 during center hours.