METHUEN — State Sen. Diana DiZoglio hopes to put money where her feet are.
DiZoglio, a Methuen Democrat, is working jointly with local middle- and high-school students to raise money for a new youth/community center, possibly to be built in the old Pleasant Valley School building on Pleasant Valley Street.
She's stepping off Friday for a 159-mile hike across Massachusetts with the hope of raising $159,000 — or $1,000 per mile — toward the cause.
"I think I'm ready," said a sore DiZoglio, who spent the weekend hiking up and down mountain peaks as part of her weeks-long training regimen.
On Tuesday night, she and Methuen middle- and high-school students will go before the School Committee asking for support of the project.
The PV School building is currently being used by the School Department for storage of documents. It would have to be declared surplus by the committee before being handed over to a nonprofit group that has been formed to raise money for the project.
Mayor Neil Perry, who is chairman of the School Committee, supports the center. He says there's a long road ahead of the city before the center becomes a reality.
"There's a lot to do," he said. "It's not going to open in three weeks."
If anyone should know about long roads ahead it's DiZoglio, who has already raised $43,000 for the hike, even though she hasn't left Methuen yet.
The youth center has long been a dream of DiZoglio's, who has also secured $200,000 which is being used by the nonprofit group Inspirational Ones in spearheading the Youth Innovation Program in the city.
YIP is a program for youth-building knowledge, skills and resources to prepare young people for a fulfilling future beyond school alongside the advisement of the Youth Advisory Council MY (Methuen Youth) Voice.
She also secured $1 million in a recent economic development bill toward the capital campaign. The $1 million bond still needs the final release by Gov. Charlie Baker's administration.
DiZoglio noted that a public-private partnership is what's needed to show Baker that the city is serious about the project.
"History has demonstrated that the best way to advocate to the governor for the release of state capital funding opportunities is by coming to the table with our own financial and capital commitment," said DiZoglio. "If the use of the building is contributed to the cause, and residents, officials and local businesses step up to privately support with whatever contributions they are able to make, whether it be in-kind, financial or through volunteer efforts, I am optimistic that we will eventually get the governor's nod of approval in the release of these funds to support our kids."
Perry said the city may help, adding that centers have been built in Newburyport, Andover and North Andover with a combination of municipal, state and private resources.
"It will have to be a makeover," he said, referring to the building.
He added that the city's young people are well-served by athletic leagues, but that not everyone is into sports.
"Sports is great," he said. "But we've got to do more."
He said he views the center as an informal setting where students could gather and feel free to discuss issues of interest. He said it could also provide youth with mentoring and internship opportunities."
"I'm for this," he said. "I want to help in any way I can."
The School Committee meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Methuen High School Media Center. It can also be viewed on Youtube, Comcast channel 99, or Verizon channel 31.
Members of the community interested in learning more, donating or virtually marching for the Methuen Youth and Community Center may do so by visiting https://www.facebook.com/MarchAcrossMass, www.InspirationalOnes.org by clicking on Youth Innovation Program, or by emailing Jessica@InspirationalOnes.org.