FARMINGTON — United Way of the Tri-Valley Area (UWTVA) has charged a Youth Leadership Council (YLC) at Regional School Unit 9 to address and support community needs at the high school.

The YLC is run by students at Mt. Blue High School and Foster Career and Technical Education Center and facilitated by Mary Redmond-Luce, the student services coordinator at the center.

The council first requested funding with UWTVA with a Request for Proposal (RFP). They were then awarded a $1,500 grant that the council is now doling out among different initiatives and groups in this district.

Initiatives and programs funded by YTC include “Students Against Sexual Harassment,” Mt. Blue Juniors Lacrosse, Foster Tech’s Employability Skills program and the Mt. Blue Free Store.

Students Against Sexual Harassment will use funding to purchase bracelets “to raise awareness for sexual harassment and survivors,” Sherilyn Chick, a Mt. Blue junior serving on the council said.

These choices made by YTC also help provide students with access to opportunities, money they need to participate in community events and programs.

Advertisement

The Free Store will have the opportunity to expand their dressing room while the lacrosse players will have assistance purchasing costly equipment.

Additionally, YTC is sending $200 to Cinderella’s Closet, an organization that “provides formal wear to girls who could not otherwise afford to attend their prom.”

The funding selections are “to support a wide variety of social-and-emotional [needs] and well being and so people aren’t always left out,” Chick said.

“We’re both fundraising and giving back to the community, because we’ve learned that … to be engaged in the community … is really an important part of understanding what the community needs,” Redmond-Luce said.

The YLC and UWTVA first intended for the funding to go toward a specific focus.

The council wanted to see “what the impact was” in each initiative, program. Thus, they did not fund 100% of any request.

Advertisement

“It’s kind of cool, and maybe better because we’ve reached more programs than if we were to fill 100% what everybody wants,” Chick said. “In that way, I think we’re reaching out to more students and making it like a little proactive, almost. And it will help more people than if we just did one place.”

By helping more organizations, Chick said it could also get them going, “encourage them to raise more funds.”

Next year, Redmond-Luce said the group is aiming to hone in on one need. This initial round of funding will help them identify where to direct that focus.

“Lisa (Laflin, executive director of UWTVA) encourages us to have more of a focus so that our impact can be felt and measured,” Redmond-Luce said. “But we have some really cool proposals and we also now have to figure out how we’re going to follow up and figure out how we measure that impact.”

The funded initiatives are not the only ones to benefit from UWTVA and YLC’s efforts.

Members of the council are also learning and growing through the process.

Advertisement

Redmond-Luce said this council follows Foster Tech and Mt. Blue’s goals to “help kids enter the workforce” and “raise good citizens.”

“We want our youth to be able to go out to wherever they live and be good citizens in their community,” Redmond-Luce said.

There’s also been a lot of learning about “how philanthropy works,” Redmond-Luce noted.

Laflin considers the council a way to “invest in our youth.”

“The Youth Leadership Council was developed to offer an opportunity for young people to volunteer, seek solutions to youth-related issues in the community and develop leadership skills,” she said. “We hope to empower youth to know that they can make a difference … and hopefully with seeds that have been planted, in the future as well.”

She added that the YLC students have the opportunity to gain “a broader understanding of community needs, collaboration and decision making processes, fundraising skills, time management and the power of philanthropy.”

Chick appreciates the “wonderful opportunity” provided by the council to learn more about her community and its needs.

“I’ve always like loved volunteering, because I think it’s also a fun opportunity and it gives back to community,” Chick said. “I think it just helps [me] really know what’s out there.”

“It’s fun, I love it,” she added.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.