Senator Judd Gregg and 25 of his friends at school in Dover, NH.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Gregg wins award for championing Dover program
Children’s center honors Senator

(Democrat Staff Writer)

DOVER — Twelve-year-old Bradon Laurion’s favorite memory surrounding the Seymour Osman Community Center is when professional football player Stephan Lewis came to visit.

"We scrimmaged and we learned some football stuff," Bradon said. "And, of course, I got his autograph."

Bradon’s best friend, 10-year-old Devon Hewlett, loves "open gym" time at the Center because he can play basketball, hockey, soccer and "Capture the Flag" with Bradon and other friends.

If it were not for the support of U.S. Senator Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), children like Bradon and Devon might not have the opportunity to spend time at the center.

Gregg visited the Center on Thursday for a tour of the recent addition to the building and to accept the community center’s second annual Champion of Children Award, presented to him by Devon and 13-year-old D.J. Leblanc.

Gregg was nominated for the award by Melissa Silvey, civilian director and family services coordinator at the center.

The center was able to open in 1999 when Dover was chosen by the Milton Eisenhower Foundation, which receives federal funding through the U.S. Department of Justice. Gregg was instrumental in that funding because of his role as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State and the Judiciary.

"Because of him, Silvey said, "We’re allowed to sustain. Because of his support of the children in the Dover Youth Safe Haven, we have reduced juvenile crime, increased academic achievement and reduced risky behavior in the critical hours of 2-8 p.m. daily."

Gregg gave an acceptance speech to a room full of some of the 212 children who spend time at the center on a regular basis, up from 50 in 1999.

"My theory of government," Gregg said, "Is not to reinvent the wheel. You go out and find people who are doing their job well and you give them the money and let them take it and run with it."

The center hosts one of three Youth Safe Haven programs in New Hampshire. It is a private, non-profit organization that offers local children a place to go during the after-school hours where they can do their homework, take part in recreational activities and community service projects and spend time with friends and mentors.

"Not to sound corny," 15-year-old Paulina Frost said, "But we’re like one big, happy family here."

There are incentive programs in place to encourage the children to do their homework at the center, and points earned can be cashed in at the end of each year toward trips to shows in Boston, amusement parks and local mountains to ski.

The children are also monitored for their school absenteeism, tardiness and grades. According to John McCooey, chair of the Dover Housing Authority, absenteeism and tardiness have lessened and grades have risen since the center opened.

"When folks talk about Dover, New Hampshire — and they do — they talk about all those accomplishments," McCooey told the children.

Dover Police Chief Bill Fenniman, the recipient of the Champion of Children Award in 2003, was present for the ceremony along with Dover Mayor Scott Myers, Executive Director of the Dover Housing Authority Jack Buckley, City Councilor Matt Mayberry, Vice Chairman of the Dover Housing Authority Allan Krans and Seymour Osman, who owns the building and for whom the center is named.

The building’s expansion, which began in January and was recently completed, was funded with a grant from the city and includes a new kitchen, a storage closet with 500 feet of attic space, a new computer room and a new conference room.

© 2004 Geo. J. Foster Company