Coming Distractions …
Dec 5 – SWOT Project at the Manila Family Resource Center – Time TBA
Dec 5 – RISE EVENT – Christmas Caroling for Arts Alive in Old Town Eureka
Dec 10-12 – The Jerry Paul Arcata Invitational Basketball Tournament (AIBT) at Arcata High School
Dec 18(?) – RISE EVENT – Enjoy the Living Rooms (with Sunriser Bob Johnson) at Chapala Cafe (date may need to be corrected …)
- President Howard and our First Lady Rebecca were the sole Sunriser representatives at the recent chip-spreading event at Valley West Park. Howard promised to provide more lead time before our next adventure.
- Our next Club meeting will be on Friday, December 4th, and it will be Election Day! Three seats are open on our Board of Directors, and a President-Elect Designate Emeritus Pro Tem will be selected as well. (That last title may need some editing.) If you would like to nominate someone, let President Howard know.
Sophia Waern-Bugge, said that she and some of her fellow Exchange Students recently went to Trinidad for a luncheon, which was followed by a hike on the beach. Sophia said that it was “really pretty – when we got to the beach, we didn’t want to leave”.
She also had her last cross-country race of the season. Although the team didn’t win the championships, they did come in second.
Sophia went to dinner at Bob Johnson’s home, which she said was nice. “There was lots of good food.”
She said that the time is going by quickly. “The weeks are just flying past,” she told us. “It’s a little scary!”
Transitional Age Youth Update
Ed Christians provided an update from the Transitional Age Youth (TAY) program, which just wrapped up its series of workshops with Humboldt Live! recently. Before discussing that part of the program, he reminded us that we will be hosting the annual Foster Families Dinner on Thursday, December 3rd at Bethel Church in Eureka. Once again, our goal is to provide a home-style meal for 300 to 350 foster youth, their families, and others who support them throughout the year. Many of those who attended last year’s event called it the “best ever”. That was due in large part to Ceva Courtemanche’s commitment that we provide a meal that we would be proud to serve to our own families. We will need runners and other helpers, setup and cleanup crews, servers, and assistance in the kitchen – online signups will be available soon.
The Arcata Sunrise/Humboldt Live! workshop series was our second such event. Jim Ritter led the sessions, which were specifically tailored to the needs of the former foster youths. The program recognizes that these young people have faced serious adversity in their lives, and understands that they are adults, not “unfortunates needing help”. The participants define the activities, serve as hosts for the workshops, make connections, and learn how to reach out to others.
The activities that took place over the six weeks of the program included participating in mock interviews and learning how to highlight their experiences in a resume. The group also visited Sun Valley Floral Farms, and they were hosted by Sunriser Ron Sharp as they toured the North Coast Co-op. There were also three panel discussions, covering employer expectations, medical and health case, and information technology.
Ed said that many of the young people were transformed by the program. The sessions had an average attendance of about 10 to 12 participants. Several were women who were either mothers or mothers-to-be.
One young woman started out “painfully quiet and shy”. But over the course of the program, her confidence grew, and she regularly attended, even though she needed care for her child. She was willing to talk with just a little encouragement, and she learned how to be her own advocate and how to present herself well in a job interview. She even participated in a job shadow opportunity at a local restaurant.
Ed told us of a young man with excellent attendance who had participated in the first iteration of the program, but did not finish. Between the two sets of workshops, he was hired by a local retail store. He was an enthusiastic participant, but he had some anxiety about his job skills. However, he also gained confidence through the program, and he plans to pursue a career fighting forest fires.
We also heard about another “core” participant – a young woman who did a job shadow with a local Clinical Social Worker. She grew in confidence and improved her presentation skills.
Another young mother traveled from Hoopa twice each week for the sessions, and she balanced caring for her child with her existing job and the program. She is planning to become a counselor or therapist in the near future.
The Committee’s goal is to help improve the life of at least one foster youth, a goal they believe was clearly exceeded. They know that the four core members of the group are transforming their lives with our help, and we hope that others who took part also gained and grew as a result of the workshops.
Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA)
Each year, our Club’s Scholarships and Competitions Committee selects deserving students from the high schools in our service area to attend Camp RYLA. (As you can see in the headline, RYLA stands for Rotary Youth Leadership Awards). The week-long camp is held at Westminster Woods, near Occidental in Sonoma County.
Last week, our Featured Speakers were four students – Tristan, Olivia, Greta, and Cheyenne (Tex) – from Arcata High School who attended the camp this summer. Olivia told us that the camp started at the beginning of summer break. Most of those who attended are now high school seniors, but a few (including Greta) are juniors.
Olivia told us that they were apprehensive when they first arrived. Theirs was the first bus to reach the camp, and they shook hands with each new camper as he or she arrived. Although she was sure that she would never remember all the names, by the end of the week, she knew them all, and she had conversed with everyone at least once.
The campers were assigned cabins, and almost no one was bunked with someone from their school. Each group worked together to come up with a name for their cabin. Tristan said that he didn’t know any of his group at first, but “by the end of it, we were like brothers – we had bonded so well.”
The four campers agreed that the counselors were great. They weren’t much older than those attending the camp, but they had a lot of experience. The counselors were able to help everyone work through their initial anxieties, because they themselves had attended the camp before.
The campers focused on activities that matched their interests. Tex and Olivia were in a group that worked on Skits, which Olivia described as a “don’t be afraid to embarass yourself” endeavor. At each evening’s Campfire get-together, their group would entertain the whole camp, with skits and games. Greta and Tristan were in the group that prepared the Leadership Manual. They summarized the lessons learned in camp, so they could bring the information back to share with others. Other groups focused on creating a yearbook for the camp, publishing a daily newspaper, debating, and photography.
In addition to the skits and games mentioned above, the nightly Campfires were a great opportunity for stories and fun. Tristan noted that the Campfire time was “also one of the many opportunities to put ourselves out there”. The Skits group provided games to help the campers be more interactive. “A lot of them were very embarassing,” he said, “but they really allowed people to get out of their comfort zones.”
All four of our guests agreed that a “game” played on the second night was one of the most moving experiences they have been part of. A board with a lot of cards, each bearing a derogatory word or a slang word, was placed in front of the group. Each camper was invited to go up and take one of the cards, and explain what the word meant to him or her, and how it made them feel. It was very emotional for all – the campers and the counselors all were in tears. “It was one heck of an icebreaker,” Olivia told us. Greta added that it allowed the campers to get to know each other better, and to realize that “we are all one”. Tristan said, “It really tore down any walls or barriers we had around ourselves.”
The keynote speakers for the camp were excellent. They included “Slick Rick” (aka Ricky Phillips), who talked about bullying, and its effect on others. He encouraged the campers not to be bystanders, but to actively discourage bullying activities. Chiropractor Tim Grund spoke about striving for peak performance and efficiency. Kerry Rego discussed the positive use of social media. And attorney Louis Hopfer provided insights on improving communications and interpersonal skills.
Each day, the campers spent about two hours participating in recreational activities. These included volleyball, basketball, soccer, swimming, and hiking. They also enjoyed card games and hand games. At the end of camp, there was a talent show. Each cabin put on a short performance, and those were followed by individual performances.
Tex thanked us for sending the group to the camp. He said, “It was an event that changed my life, because I got to see past people’s outer barriers.” He encouraged us to continue to send young people to Camp RYLA, to help them grow as leaders.
Unsung Rotarian for October
President Howard closed out our meeting by naming his “Unsung Rotarian” for the month of October. For her work for our Club (much of it behind the scenes), Brenda Bishop earned the latest recognition! She introduced our World Community Service Committee to the “Shoe That Grows” project, she took on our most recent Final Friday Foundation Auction in the absence of Foundation Chair Terri Clark, and she provided entertainment and decorations for our Spring Fundraiser last March. Plus, Brenda can always be counted on to be thoughtful and insightful. Congratulations!!