It’s a new year and with that comes a good time for changes and fresh starts—especially for the nearly 30-year-old Parks Place Community Resource Center, which has a new director, a new board president and two new board members.
Katie Dearborn was voted in as President of the board of directors at the board’s annual retreat in November and has served on the board since 2015. Her term as president will run for two years. Katie has been an active community member in the greater Bellows Falls community over the last 15 years. Katie lives in Westminster with her husband Chad and two children Abby and Colby who attend schools in Bellows Falls. Katie is currently the Branch Manager for Mascoma Bank in Walpole, NH.
“Parks Place is a perfect fit for me, I love being connected to the community and look forward to continuing to help Parks Place be sustainable while supporting our community. The work that happens inside of the house is remarkable and I am proud to be a part of it,” Dearborn says.
In addition to Dearborn onboarding as president, Liz Ainsworth and Ellen Lawrence were also welcomed to the organization’s board and will assist in helping Parks Place continue to serve the local community as a hub for resource connection and help.
After a brief period of transition in the summer, the board of directors named Megan Applegate as interim executive director in October. Applegate had previously served as resource coordinator. This month, the board of director’s executive committee voted to install Applegate as the permanent executive director and tasked her with the job of guiding the organization’s mission and outreach endeavors.
Applegate is married with four children in the WNESU district schools, ages 15, 10, 7, and 6. Born in Rockingham, she was raised in Texas and comes to Parks Place with a background in public relations and communications for organizations large and small. Additionally, she worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter and teaches local writing classes.
“Parks Place holds such as special place in the heart of the community and among its providers and supporters, that the honor of this opportunity isn’t lost on me,” Applegate says. “I’m learning every day and cherish the chance to meet the people in the community who make and have made Parks Place what it is.”
Because of her strong connection to the children in Bellows Falls, one of the first programs Applegate created through Parks Place was an after-school club at Central Elementary, which kicked off in January. Programs explore topics like S.T.E.M., an art lab, and a martial arts afternoon led by local professionals.
“There was this obvious need for some of the older elementary school kids to have a way to explore new interests and form stronger bonds with each other and positive role models,” Applegate says. “With the blessing from the district and from school staff, we had the program up and running in no time and have between 18 and 30 kids participate each day. To say it’s a been a hit with the kids is putting it lightly!”
Founded in 1992, Parks Place is home to nearly forty providers in health, education, employment, social justice, and human service programs. It serves Bellows Falls, Rockingham, Athens, Westminister, Saxtons River, Grafton and surrounding areas in Vermont and New Hampshire.