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Friday night rollerskating returns
Kristi Money helps her daughter, Shealee Campbell, put on rollerskates last Friday at the Mexico Rec Center. Kristi is one of the six volunteers who have brought back the longtime program. (Times photo by Bruce Farrin)
Ginger Burnham and Aiden Pike enjoy their healthy snacks as Bailee Whittemore receives a veggie plate with organic range dip from Melissa Burnham and other volunteers at the Healthy Buck Cafe during Friday night rollerskating, which has returned to the Mexico Rec Center. (Times photo by Bruce Farrin)
MEXICO -- After a noticeable absence this school year, Friday night rollerskating (for ages 4-15) has returned to the Mexico Rec Center, thanks to six energentic and enthusiastic young women.
All of them have been friends since high school, but something these ladies have in common -- they all rollerskated here when they were younger. Led by Melissa Burnham, they also include Christi and Kimberly Money, Kaylee Martin, Michelle Arsenault and Samantha Paul.
They call themselves People Helping People. Between them, they have young families, regular jobs and are continuing their education, but before this project, individually they have helped the elderly with snow shoveling and driving people to medical appointments.
Kimberly summed up the philosophy of their group. "People helped us to get where we are now. We just want to pay it forward."
This Friday, the 6-9 p.m. event will be the third week of the program. The first week attracted some 50 people, 37 paying customers. Melissa said they took in $185 for the rollerskating end.
Melissa said that despite some criticism from some of the adults, they are limiting concessions to healthy choices, which include sugar-free cookies, organic candy, popcorn, yogurt items, and veggie plate with organic range dip. Many of these items, the women make themselves, including a fruit parfait with "Save the Rain Forest" granola.
And at least, so far, the youngsters have no problems with ordering food from what is called the Healthy Buck Cafe. For the first week, they took in $88, with $10 going to the rec department and the rest to the purchase of more concession items.
Melissa said the rollerskating project got its start when some of them decided to bring their young children to rec center for rollerskating, only to learn the Friday night tradition had been cancelled since last September.
They approached Town Manager John Madigan about bringing back rollerskating, then a meeting with Rec Director Wayne Sevigny and the rec committee. From there, Melissa said they developed a business plan and went to the Board of Selectmen. "They said 'go for it.'"
She said the process took several weeks as the women conversed over the phone and over Facebook in developing ideas for this project, as well as developing the business plan. "We rely heavily on each other."
While the volunteers were discussing the program, 13-year-old Brandy Thompson stopped over and said she wanted to volunteer. "I've been coming here since I was little. I want to do what I can do to help."
She offered up a crumpled five-dollar bill to pay for her admission, but was told she didn't have to pay for being a volunteer.
A discount package is offered for a family of four for $18 plus $4 in healthy bucks. The price of admission is discounted to $3 after 8 p.m.
Melissa said people can bring in organic or natural food in exchange for admission.
There is also a code of conduct. Melissa said parents picking up their kids must come into the rec center to do so. During the session, if a youth exits the building without a parent, they may be asked not to come back in. "This is intended to be a family engagement activity. We'd rather that this not be a babysitting service."
Free skating passes are offered for winners of games at 7:30 p.m., such as the limbo and four corners. There are raffles for passes as well.
Melissa said incentives are also given for acts of kindness such as helping a younger kid tie skates or someone who has fallen.
For the older rollerskaters, they have a youth referee program, with a youngster helping run the program with use of a whistle for a month.
Reward for being in this leadership program is discounts at the Healthy Buck Cafe.
Melissa said they will continue to do Friday night rollerskaking until the numbers dwindle.
For questions about Friday night rollerskating, call Melissa Burnham at 578-2779. Information about the program will appear on the River Valley Recreation Center page on Facebook.