Beat the Street community center in Meriden continues serving members during pandemic  

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MERIDEN — Beat the Street Community Center is open and following COVID-19 guidelines. 

“We want to have structured programs that are educational, developmental and that are athletic so that they have an opportunity to have some normalcy,” said Larry Pelletier, executive director. “Maybe not exactly what they had pre-COVID, but to have something that they could look forward to and make sure that our facility is a safe place for them to be.”

The Beat the Street building on South Colony Street closed temporarily when schools closed on March 13. However, programs continued online. Staff also checked in on its members. 

“Zoom dance classes with our dance crews ... Zoom athletic training with our members that wanted to participate as well as keeping contact with our members through our career development program,” Pelletier said.  

In May, Pelletier said they handed out over 100 gently used bicycles and new helmets to members through Bikes for Kids.

Bikes for Kids “is a nonprofit organization in Essex that takes in donated bikes from the general public, refurbishes them and gives them away to boys and girls with a specified need,” said David Fowler, past president and board member of Bikes for Kids. 

According to Fowler, Pelletier was good friends with his uncle, Charlie French, who lived at the Bradley Home & Pavilion. French would repair the bikes in the Bradley Home basement and take them to the firehouse to find out which kids in the neighborhood needed a bike. After a while, he needed a new place to donate, which is when he ran into Pelletier.  

“Between Charlie and us down here at our main wheel house in Essex, we were able to get Larry a nice bunch of bikes on a number of occasions,” Fowler said. “... (Larry) has been down a number of times over the years to pick bikes up from us and over to the Bradley Home to pick bikes up from Charlie. Charlie was repairing bikes for us until he reached the age of 100 years old ... he has since passed on.” 

Beat the Street has continued to receive more bikes from Bikes for Kids to give out to its other members. 

“It’s been a good type of initiative to get our members out doing things outside during the course of the summer as well as now so they can do as much activity as they can,” Pelletier said. 

Pelletier said that starting July 6, members ages 14 and older were allowed back in the facility. The younger kids were allowed back in early September. However, programs were still offered to these younger children even when they weren’t able to come in the building.  

“During the summer, our dance instructor met with our dance group over at the Meriden Green and she would do the class outside twice a week,” Pelletier said. 

Pelletier said that Beat the Street follows all state protocols. Everyone must wear masks, stay six feet apart, fill out a wellness questionnaire and have their temperature taken when they enter. Cleaning is also being done regularly. 

The center also has a new face recognition system for entry. 

“Any person — parent, volunteers, staff — anybody visiting has to be a registered member to come into our facility so that the intake system records that they entered the community center,” Pelletier said. “... The main reason is that any type of outbreak of COVID to one of our members … they could be notified.” 

“We are going to make sure our facility is a safe place for people to be in because we’ve taken on that responsibility to make sure that we are taking the requirements that have been given to us seriously,” Pelletier added

jsimms@record-journal.com203-317-2208Twitter: @jessica_simms99


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