The longer I hang around, the more stuff about New Hampshire I realize I don’t know. Case in point: I had no idea that the Souhegan Valley Boys and Girls Club had its own awesome theater adjacent to its Milford facility. Or that the theater, now the Amato Center for the Performing Arts, was once home to the American Stage Festival.
The fact that some 900 kids from Milford, Amherst, and beyond are now taking advantage of that 460-seat theater is exciting in and of itself. I am told it is one of just two Boys and Girls Clubs, anywhere, that have their own full-size theaters.
I found this out and more last week when Citizens Bank, with the Union Leader Corp. as a co-sponsor, kicked off the 2014 Champions in Action program. Citizens Bank’s Charitable Foundation has been providing unrestricted (a key word, that) grants to community and regional groups for more than a decade.
Bank chief Joe Carelli and his team, with help from our own Community Relations manager, Shannon Sullivan, did their homework well in selecting Souhegan for this grant. What Director Susan Taylor and her crew will do with $35,000 is hard to predict, but there can be no shortage of ideas or needs for the money.
The place was alive with energy as kids readied for, what else, a play they were putting on that night. But Ms. Taylor told me I should see the joint during the day, especially after school when boys and girls from elementary to high school age are at the facility for, let’s see, cooking class, computer class, rock-wall climbing, and something called a man cave.
It is nice to see the positive things that are being done for and by kids in New Hampshire communities these days. Lord knows, with all the bad things out and about in this world of ours, places like the Boys and Girls Club fill a need. More power to them.
It is also nice to see the old theater put to such good use. At the event, I met a former American Stage Festival executive who is smiling still to think that the hard work that went into that venture still has meaning today.
There was other positive news last week about a New Hampshire youth who has grown up to be quite successful.
Gerard Lacroix, now Archbishop of Quebec, was named by Pope Francis to become a cardinal. As a boy, Lacroix lived in Manchester, went to Trinity High, and studied briefly at St. Anselm College.
When I sent a note to the newsroom that we needed to do a story on the first cardinal from New Hampshire, one of the wise guys messaged back that it would actually be the second one from Trinity High.
The first? Chris Carpenter, he said. Pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Write to Joe McQuaid at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at @deucecrew.