Diane Newlin has announced her resignation as director of the Oregon Youth Center after nine years in the role. Her last day is Thursday, Sept. 12.

In a phone conversation Monday with the Observer, Newlin said she shared the “bittersweet” news via email with the OYC board on Aug. 22. She said she informed the county and local municipalities that provide funding to the program and the youths’ parents Sept. 5.

Newlin said she felt it was her responsibility to tell the kids in person before word spread, which she did in the OYC’s new building on their second day back to school Sept. 4.

“That part was really challenging,” she told the Observer. “These kids are amazing kids. They definitely have a piece of my heart.”

The OYC board posted the job opening to the nonprofit’s Facebook page on Sept. 6. The job description is available at oregonyouthcenter.org, and applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

“I feel that now is the best possible time for me to step away from this program, as I know it is in great hands with our current board of directors, as well as the current assistant director and the AmeriCorps member serving at our site,” Newlin wrote in the email to the Oregon Village Board.

Newlin said it was her “honor” and “passion” to serve Oregon youth in this capacity, and she thanked the community and municipalities for their support to be able to “keep our doors open, lights on, and the kiddos’ bellies full.”

In 2014, the YMCA of Dane County stepped back from operating the center, which propelled Newlin to rally enough community support to make the center an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. The OYC was again at risk of closing in 2016 when faced with budget cuts from local municipalities, but fundraising efforts and some restored financial aid kept it going.

The OYC has faced other struggles from time to time, such as shortages of snacks, but the community always seems to come through, Newlin said.

In 2017, the Oregon Community Resource Network recognized the program’s impact on the youth and asked Newlin and the OYC board if they had any interest in a new facility. After a resounding yes (the former EMS building was showing its age inside and out), the million-dollar fundraising campaign got a $800,000 boost from an angel donor. Doors to the new building opened to dozens of smiling faces this spring.

“Watching this program grow and turn into the strong, thriving program it is today has been a great joy for me, and it is my feeling that this program will continue to offer quality, free programming to the youth and families in this community for many years to come,” Newlin wrote.

Newlin was unable to attend Monday’s Village Board meeting because of a scheduled youth and parent yoga activity at the OYC during that time, but Village President Jeanne Carpenter announced the news of her resignation and wished her well.

“We want to very much thank her for all of the work she has done there and the growth that she has managed there,” Carpenter said. “She will be missed.”