The board of directors of the Outback, New Canaan's Teen Center, recently launched a 2012-13 community appeal to raise funds for the annual operating budget, program development and maintenance of the facility. Built following a capital campaign 12 years ago, the Outback receives less than 15 percent of its $280,000 annual budget from governmental sources. Individual contributions every year are a critical source of funds for the organization. In the current year, the directors look to raise at least $55,000 from the annual appeal.

"We hope to inspire New Canaan residents once again to support this unique facility for the young people in our community," said Sangeeta Appel, board president. "At the Outback, we are committed to the health, happiness and potential of every young person in our community. The Outback is about pre-teens and teens voicing their perspectives and interests and connecting face to face with each other in a safe, substance-free and pressure-free environment. We are here to support their creative options for fun and service and to explore the possibilities."

Annual Appeal funds support operations, including professional staffing for our many activities and events. The Outback recently completed the first phase of its redesign, expanded operating hours to give more access to teens and the community, and welcomed new directors Kate Boyle and Mallory Gatison, who will lead the rest of the operating team in providing programming and professional supervision at the center.

"Most importantly," said Appel, "we are returning to our roots by reinforcing our commitment to student involvement and leadership with a strong Student Governing Board and a reinstated Middle School Advisory Board."

Every school year many hundreds of students visit the Outback and join in a variety of social events and programs, imagined and developed by teens for teens. Through these social interactions and service opportunities, teens and preteens build a sense of purpose, community and personal value.

The students also are involved in raising funds to support the center. Already in the current year, the Student Governing and Middle School Advisory boards have sold Lobsterfest tickets and managed a car wash to raise money for new equipment. The students also participated in the Holiday Stroll and Photos with Santa. The governing board members worked hard this year to help personalize many of the annual appeal solicitations.

"As a town fixture, the Outback not only offers our youth a safe place to meet and socialize, but also provides them with countless occasions for personal growth, leadership development and community outreach. The impact of the center and its programs is significant for many young people, grades 5 to 12, but we can only continue to touch their lives with the support of New Canaan residents," said Appel.

The Outback's hours for students are Tuesday to Thursday from 2 to 7 p.m., Friday from 2 to 10 p.m., Saturday from 1 to 11 p.m. and Sundays for special events.

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