I have spent a great deal of time this past week contemplating charitable giving, sharing stories, talking about need in our community, and of course, donating time and dollars through 100 Women Who Care Manistee County.
This past week, both 100 Men and 100 Women Who Care held their quarterly meetings. The newly-founded men's group raised about $3,000 in one hour, the women in their second year raised about $6,000. PLUS: An anonymous donor at the women's meeting wrote a second personal check for $2,000 to assist one of the presenting organizations who did not receive funding from the group that night. Together, over $11,000 was raised through this efficient, effective process.
In addition, discussion has begun on forming 100 Youth Who Care Manistee County. It simply makes sense. Educating and engaging youth in discussions about the various nonprofit organizations in the county at an early age will prepare them to support and serve others in our community throughout their lives. Currently, YAC - - Youth Advisory Committee of the Manistee County Community Foundation does just that -- they are engaging our youth in the development of our communities in Manistee County.
100 Who Care not only raise dollars. These meetings are a place to raise awareness of the good work going on throughout Manistee County by tireless, generous volunteers. HATS OFF to each and every person giving time, energy, and money.
Just a day after our meeting, I had the opportunity to talk to the local director/mentor of Staircase Youth Services, a program that is dedicated to assisting at-risk, runaway, and/or homeless youth in West Michigan - - specifically this woman serves in Manistee County.
The cause for teens at-risk can stem from many sources including sexual, physical, and/or substance abuse, divorce, illness, pregnancy, and/or communication breakdown in the family. With early intervention, some of these problems can be prevented from becoming legal or even life-threatening issues. Learning more about the critical work of this agency, I could not help think how important it is that we care deeply and gently for our youth - - who often for reasons much beyond their control - - find themselves in situations of crisis.
I also learned that anonymous donors have contributed to Staircase in some of the most unusual, but beneficial ways: dollars of course, but also rolling suitcases, fresh, new blankets, hygiene and hair care products, movie theater passes, school supplies. Some folks have hired youth in this program to rake their lawns, etc. as they work to earn money to fund driver's education or pay to get a driver's license. (That in itself is a huge expense; but a license is important when trying to get a job or attend school.)
As you go about your week, I invite you to ponder our youth as both important contributors to Manistee County, as well as tender, fragile young people trying to make it in what can sometimes be very difficult situations. Also keep the program counselors and directors in your thoughts - their work with youth, the aging, and those in crisis too often goes unnoticed or is misunderstood.
There are so many ways you can help our youth in Manistee County - - check out www.staircaseyouthservices.org to learn more.