While most teens spend the last drops of summer vacation soaking up the bliss of school-free sunshine, three of our own YouthWorks Council members spent their time making some tough decisions.
Recently, Sarah Mitchell, Jomay Ruiz and Mark Day, delegates of the YouthWorks Council, spoke to The Memorial Foundation Allocations Committee to make their formal recommendations for the allocation of YouthWorks funds. Charged with distributing over $54,000, the YouthWorks Council saw fit to recommend $38,000 to fully support Memorial’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit’s (NICU) continued collaboration with the Vermont Oxford Network, while a recommendation was made for the remainder of the funds to be allocated to Children’s Village programs.
All one2one mentors at Children’s Village, each council representative held a personal stake in this year’s recommendation. Ruiz coordinated this past year’s Mr. Davis pageant, and will do so again this coming year. The Council felt strongly that they wanted to choose a program with needs they could fully fund. For Ruiz and the other council representatives, providing funds for the NICU was a top priority.
“[Davis] raised more than any other participating high school, and that was in large part because of the pageant contestants’ tour of the NICU,” said Ruiz. “The nurses showed us their newest incubator bought with funds provided by YouthWorks, and it really focused our attention. After that, our contestants knew what they were doing provided real value.”
For another Youth Council representative, Children’s Village is a second home. “With my mom being one of the first employees there, and my brother receiving services at Children’s Village, I would go there all the time,” recalls Day. Having been around Children’s Village for so many years, Day said, “I used to get my cheeks pinched a lot. I still get my cheeks pinched, but less so now!”
With the remaining $16,000 for the YouthWorks Council to distribute, they hope that the grant will make an impact where the leadership of the Children’s Village sees fit. Whether towards autism, genetics or mental health programs, they know that their contribution—though “a small sliver” of the overall operating cost—will make a big impact.