Addison Central Teens sees turnover in leadership

MIDDLEBURY — In addition to looking for financial stability (see story on Page 1A), Addison Central Teens is looking for a new administrative team to run its teen center at Middlebury’s former warming hut.
The ACT board needs a new executive director to replace long-time leader Colby Benjamin and a program director to succeed Erin Morrison. The two teen center staffers recently left ACT, with Benjamin accepting a job as property manager for the Addison County Community Trust and Morrison is moving into a full-time gig as programs and communications manager for the non-profit Addison Community Athletics Foundation.
Rik Poduschnick, treasurer of the ACT board, said he’s received a few applications from candidates for the two jobs. The executive director post is a full-time position, while the program director is a 0.6-full-time equivalent post.
“I’m trying to hold up the ship as best as possible,” Poduschnick said light-heartedly of the vacancies.
Benjamin had been involved with the teen center since 2010, first as co-director with Jutta Miska. He explained he hadn’t been aggressively looking for a new job, but happened to spot the Community Trust help-wanted ad in the Independent. He believed his skills matched what the Community Trust was looking for in a property manager.
He’s confident he is leaving ACT at a strong juncture in its brief history.
Programming options are on the rise, thanks in part to a three-year, $32,000 grant from the Vermont Children’s Trust Foundation.
The Middlebury Lions Club recently donated some funds to help renovate the back room in the warming hut so that it can now host programming.
ACT has forged some strong and lasting partnerships with Middlebury Union High School, the Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center and Middlebury Parks & Recreation Department, among others.
“We have a great relationship with the town, schools and Middlebury College,” Benjamin said.
He agrees with the ACT board’s suggestion that the teen center merge with Middlebury Parks & Recreation as a way of sustaining a service he said has had a “major, positive effect on the lives of youth.”
Benjamin offered an anecdote to illustrate that positive effect.
He spoke of a usually ebullient teen center regular who showed up one day downcast.
“It was a red flag,” Benjamin recalled.
The youth confided his family had been evicted from their home and had nowhere to go. Benjamin was able to refer the family to social services providers who were able to secure housing for the family.
“We were able to let him know that he wasn’t alone,” Benjamin said.
He’ll miss the relationships he’s forged with teen center visitors through the years, and he plans to remain involved with ACT as a booster.
“It was heartbreaking talking to the kids and saying, ‘I’m not going to be here after this date,’” he said.
Morrison began working at ACT in March of 2016. She said she’ll miss making connections with the teens who drop in at the center.
Anyone interested in applying for the two teen center vacancies should email Rik Poduschnick at [email protected].
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected]

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