Youth rake, weed, paint – and enjoy

 youth.jpg While many of their peers were probably playing video games or watching college basketball Sunday, more than 40 Milan youths gathered and performed maintenance work at the town’s recreation park.

It was one of the rare occasions the word fun was associated with weed-pulling, raking and painting.

“It’s a good way for people here to come together,” said Ali Brundrett, 16, a Milan resident who attends Red Hook High School. “We don’t have a school in town, so some people may feel left out because they go to school in Rhinebeck, Red Hook or Pine Plains. But we’re all Milaners.”

Sunday’s community service project kicked off the Milaners youth group. The group was established recently to create cohesion in the town and give young people a chance to meet and work together through community service.

The project involved getting the Milan Recreation Park spruced up for the start of Little League baseball next month. Boy Scout Troop 45 assisted.

 At the end of the day, volunteers sat down together for a barbecue dinner.

David Byrne, a member of the Milan town board, said he got the idea for the group while he was campaigning last year for his board seat.

Although a youth group was created in the town last year, it was more of a social group, Byrne said.

“For a small town, we’ve been fractured,” Byrne said. “I thought this program would be a good way to teach the youth here about community service.”

Milan has a population of 2,649, according to 2006 U.S. Census Bureau estimates, and is divvied up among the Rhinebeck, Red Hook and Pine Plains school districts.

Maggie Salamone, a Milan resident and a parent who volunteers with the town recreation committee, said this scenario makes it hard for children in the town to meet and form strong connections.

“Otherwise, the only other way they’d meet is by facing each other on the baseball team,” Salamone said.

Marc Salamone, 12, said he had a good time Sunday. Plus, he believes the hard work will benefit him in the long run.

“I just thought that it would be good to help out and the community service will look good on job and college applications,” he said.


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