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Friday, February 8, 2013

The Youth Assistance Program


“Age is foolish and forgetful when it underestimates youth.” (J.K. Rowling) from the Jack’s Winning Words blog. I might add to Rowling’s saying by adding “and wasteful when writes youth off.”

Last night my wife and I went to the annual Taste of the Valley fund raiser for the Huron Valley Youth Assistance Program. We met and had a nice talk with the one youth counselor that the program has left after recent budget cuts. She gave us some good insight into the goals of the program to be a preventative measure to keep kids from going astray. By the time that we read about them in the paper it is often too late to retrieve a young life and set it on the right path.  Getting off on the wrong foot can start with something as simple as skipping school to “hang out” with neighborhood friends.

I certainly don’t intend to discuss what “the right path” is, but I’m pretty sure that it is illuminated by a having a strong sense of right and wrong and a good moral compass. I’m also sure that it does not require drugs or other artificial means to find it. Oakland County has a strong commitment to the youth of the community and sees them rightly as the future for the area. The County supported Youth Assistance program is one of the strongest in the state; yet even it has suffered the ravages of the recent recession with staff and program cut-backs. Fund raisers like the Taste of the Valley help some, but more is needed.

One need is not about money and is something that anyone can help out with. The YA program needs volunteers to be mentors to the youth in the program. Mentors have to be willing and able to spend time with kids who many times just need someone to talk to or to go to an event with.  Many of the “at risk” kids in the program come from dysfunctional families where finding a responsible adult to talk out a problem might be impossible

The  annual Taste of the Valley fund raiser is used to help fund the YA program within the he Huron Valley School District. The program is currently headquartered on the Apollo Center on N. Milford Rd in Highland. You can contact them at (248) 676-8492 if you’d like to volunteer or just need more information about what they are doing in the Huron Valley School District. If you’d like to read more about becoming a YA mentor or just want more information about the Oakland County YA program click here.

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