Getting to know U.P. Kids

HOUGHTON – Wednesday night was a chance for area residents to find out where U.P. Kids is and what it does.

The agency held an open house at its new headquarters in the former Yalmer Mattila Construction Company building. Employees were on hand to explain U.P. Kids’ role in the community.

The agency, formed as the Good Will Farm orphanage in 1899, now has programs including foster care, adoption and a post-adoption resource center. Because of the downscaling of its residential services, U.P. Kids moved out of its main building near MacInnes Drive and put its remaining boys living there into a smaller house formerly used as a girls’ residence.

Executive Director Mark Lambert said the open house was a way to reintroduce the organization to the public.

“We really lived in a cloud with Good Will Farm for a while, so we’re trying to educate the community,” he said.

U.P. Kids purchased the building in March, and spent the next few months moving people in and tweaking the building. They took out cubicles for an open floor space and removed drafting tables from the walls.

The new location has been perfect, Lambert said.

“It feels good in here – and you can’t beat the location,” he said. “If we hadn’t gotten this building after we saw this and wanted it, I don’t know if I could have found another place that would have made me happy.”

People in attendance had the same reaction.

Bill Musselman of Houghton came to see the new space of a fellow Houghton Rotary Club member. The organization has also supported U.P. Kids over the years.

“It’s wonderful,” he said. “It’s bright, it’s lively, it’s warm. And it looks like it’s going to be a great place to help the kids who need help.”

Marilynn Hamar of Chassell said moving to a new location had been discussed numerous times during her 25 years on the board in the Good Will Farm days.

“I’m happy for them,” she said. “It looks wonderful.”

Ken Seaton of Hancock had been in the old building plenty of times. There’s no comparison to the new office space, he said.

“It’s terrific,” he said. “It’s a big improvement for office space.”

“Luxury space – luxury location,” added Richard Dunnebacke of Houghton.

“Right on the waterfront,” Seaton said. “How can you beat that?”