Doing what you can with what you have
CUTLINE: Volunteering to chaperone or to donate snacks for the Youth Center in Elgin are just a couple of ways that parents and adults can get involved in Vallye Community Coalition’s mission to support youth in our local communities. Some area youth are shown here enjoying what the Youth Center has to offer.
Doing what you can with what you have
By Brian Smith
Misty Johnson and Stacie Schroeder are prime examples of parents who are making a difference through their involvement with youth in our community. They would probably be the first to admit, however, that this hasn’t occurred because they are experts on teenagers (who is?) or have spent hours attending committee meetings.
“It’s not really about attending meetings, it’s more about finding something that you feel comfortable doing that contributes to the cause and doing that,” related Schroeder.
Johnson agreed, adding, “I think most parents would agree that it is important to be involved with your children, and I saw that my son was involved in some VCC activities. It was an opportunity for me to be more involved with my own child.”
Both of these women have become involved with the Valley Community Coalition (VCC), doing what they can to help support youth in the community. Among the different ways they have been able to participate are chaperoning at the Youth Center in Elgin, assisting with the annual Turkey River Classic golf tournament, donating baskets to the annual VCC Basket Auction, and helping with publicity on a variety of other VCC-related events.
Johnson, who has a son in eighth grade at North Fayette Valley Middle School, noticed her son becoming excited about going to the Youth Center and interacting with other kids his age in a safe environment.
“Seeing how he enjoys the activities they provide is evidence to me that VCC is accomplishing their goal of supporting youth in our community,” noted the Clermont resident.
“I originally was involved because it is connected to my job at Helping Services, but now it’s more because of my own son, who is in high school. As a parent, I see the need for the different resources of support that VCC helps provide youth in the area,” explained Schroeder.
Both Johnson and Schroeder feel that what they are able to contribute is only a small part of a greater whole. They know that getting as many people involved as possible is the best way to see VCC continue its mission and even expand its influence in the community.
“In the future, it would be great to have a fully functioning program that offers these type of supports that would meet as many needs as possible in all locations,” declared Schroeder.
She would like to see after-school programs in each community, as well as an increase in the number of students involved in prevention groups like Students Okay without Drugs and Alcohol. Currently SODA has approximately 100 student members combined at NFV Middle School and High School. Expanding VCC’s influence geographically to all the communities in the area is also important to her.
“We all need to be positive role models for youth, which is important, because they are our future. There are so many ways to be involved, so I recommend that you pick what seems to fit you and go with it,” advised Johnson.
So if you are thinking that becoming involved would be too time-consuming or just another meeting that you would have to attend, think again. It is really just a matter of playing to whatever strength you may have and using that strength to assist youth in some way.
Whether that means volunteering to be a mentor to a young person who really needs one, or donating snacks and materials to the Youth Center, do what you can. Take it from Misty and Stacie, you will be glad you did!
Anyone wishing to become involved in supporting the youth of Fayette County in any way may contact VCC at (563) 426-5699 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.