Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Arts/Entertainment

March 27, 2014

RISE-ing to the occasion

Annual telethon may witness youth center ground-breaking

Prepare to be entertained. The annual Andover Youth Foundation Telethon is coming.

And it may just coincide with the long-awaited ground-breaking for the telethon’s main cause — the Cormier Youth Center.

Weather-permitting, construction of the youth center behind Doherty Middle School on Bartlet Street will begin next week.

Andover Youth Services is hoping live remote broadcasts from the youth center site will be among the highlights of the annual telethon, slated for Thursday and Friday, April 3 and 4.

Local youths have been pulling out all the stops, polishing up their performances and producing videos to promote what they hope will be one of the last major fundraising drives for the center.

The theme of this year’s telethon is “Together We Rise” — a nod to the community effort that has been behind the hard-fought campaign to create a youth center in town.

Proceeds will go toward funding the second and final phase of the project, which will include the addition of a multipurpose room, workshop, conference room and multimedia studio. As much as $800,000 is needed for that work.

Last year’s telethon raised about $150,000, a hefty portion of which came in the form of an anonymous donation of $50,000.

The final price tag of the project remains at $5.8 million, of which $2 million is from taxpayers. The rest was raised by the Andover Youth Foundation.

“We’re at the point where the youth center is starting to get built here,” Andover Youth Services Director Bill Fahey said. “Every penny we raise is going to outfit a portion of the building we didn’t have the money for.”

The telethon will be broadcast live on Comcast channel 8 and Verizon channel 47. A phone bank run by volunteers will take pledges. The event is hosted by Andover youth basketball coach E.J. Perry and track coach Peter Comeau, with Superintendent Marinel McGrath also slated to do a stint as host.

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