Top 5: Why should you join the YouthWorks Council? You mean other than because it’s the newest coolest thing to do? Well…


1.  You’ll have the unique experience of seeing first-hand the health care challenges facing our community

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2.  You’ll get to address these issues and much more through volunteering, fundraising and defining youth philanthropy each and every day.

3.  You’ll learn valuable skills like working together towards a common goalarticulating your thoughts in a professional manner, successfuly managing multiple tasks.

4.  You will have at least one life-altering experience.  Maybe two. Maybe more!

5.  You’ll make tons of friends with cool kids like this:

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Who can apply: Any youth attending high school in the Yakima Valley is eligible to apply so long as they have demonstrated an active history of service to their community either through Memorial Hospital, Children’s Village or another community or school organization.

How to apply: Applications and additional information are available here. Paper versions are available at and can be returned to The Memorial Foundation, or Children’s Village. Please contact YouthWorks Coordinator, Mary Lynne Brewington [ or (509) 574-3209 with any questions.

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IMAGINE: Child Abuse Prevention Month, Volunteerism, The Madison House

Alyssa Armbrusterby Alyssa Armbruster

Not only was April Autism Awareness Month, it was also National Child Abuse Prevention Month.  And though it has passed, it is not something that should pass from our minds. To most of us, this month signifies simply small blue ribbons, but it means so much more to the children who are wedged in abusive situations.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month


Imagine sleeping – the purest escape from reality – until a loud crack is heard coming from the front door.  Countless stomping feet enter the house.  Incomprehensible yelling quickly erupts. Under the bed is the best chance for safety.  Before long, dark boots appear at the side of the bed.  The chaos calming in the room nearby.  A bright light surveys the room, illuminating a well-loved stuffed bear and an empty bed.  The light suddenly shines to uncover a startled face.

Gentle, quiet words soothe.  Crawling out from under the safe haven after assessing everything to be alright.  The jacket of another person in the room lights up: the letters, CPS, are incomprehensible.  Reluctantly led to a car shining bright, multicolored lights.

The screaming intensifies outside. The familiar faces of the ones you call your parents are led to a similar car, but not the same. Seated in the neighboring chair is another stuffed bear, with a ribbon around its neck, asking to be well loved. It is already more familiar and comforting than all of the soft speaking people around asking:

 “You OK champ?”


Being torn away from your whole world – as a child trapped in an abusive family  cannot be an easy transition.  Children caught in these circumstances not only need our attention but our whole-hearted support.

One of the simplest ways to help is to donate stuffed animals that to the children that have to ride police cruisers, providing some bit of comfort  to take with them that unfamiliar adults cannot provide.

“Volunteers are not paid — not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.” -Sherry Anderson

Secondly:  time. The Madison House through the Yakima Union Gospel Mission needs YOU! With so many deserving causes, there are few that compare to providing a light in children’s lives, playing games, preparing meals, who knows! Isn’t it worth lending them a small dose of your day to provide them with an abundance of attention and care?

Madison House’s number: (509) 457-3370

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That Ol’ Senoritis Bug

Jackie Wagnerby Jacqueline Wagner

This is senior year (and everything) is finally coming to an end…  To all of you who have graduated – oh my goodness! – you’re aware of that amazing feeling:  That little thing called senioritis starts to kick in and man is it amazing!!

“Se·nior·i·tis (sē-nyər-ˈī-təs), noun: def. 1 A crippling disease that strikes high school seniors. Symptoms include: laziness, an over-excessive wearing of track pants, old athletic shirts, sweatpants, athletic shorts, and sweatshirts. Also features a lack of studying, repeated absences, and a generally dismissive attitude. The only known cure is a phenomenon known as Graduation.” [courtesy of Urban Dictionary]

There’s going to be an entire summer with nothing school-related to worry about,  and you start to not care about your homework.  Not only does everything seem less important, but you already have your plans for the next year, and the teachers (God bless them) give you less to do because they know it is close to the end.

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Unfortunately, senioritis is just a dream in my world, that seems to be JUST out of grasp. As much as I wish I could have it… I can’t.  End of the year exams are coming up and go throughout the entire month of May… and to top it all off, I have a 15-20 page essay to write the last week of school. The topic, at least, is what I learned over the past year, so I can make it pretty interesting.. but 15 pages!?!

I’m supposed to have less work, not more!

For anyone who has had the chance to experience senioritis, I am oh so extremely very much completely and totally jealous, because I am ready to move on and be done with homework (even as a write this I’m supposed to be writing an essay.. in French.. about being a translator for the United Nations…gahhh).


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The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: The Best Part

Today marks the last tour of Memorial Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for the 2013 “Mr.” pageant fundraising season, my first.  Over the course of the last four months, young men and women from Toppenish, Davis, West Valley, Eisenhower, Sunnyside, Wapato and East Valley High Schools got a brief first-hand glimpse into the seemingly endless trials and even greater victories of pre-maturely born infants in Yakima – as well as the pressures felt by families.

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The well-travelled NICU transport incubator, a baby’s first ride.

In case you didn’t know, Memorial Hospital’s NICU is the the perinatal center for central Washington.  Which means anywhere from Ellensburg to Sunnyside, Othello to Harrah, Moses Lake to Mabton, if there is a child born prior to 37 weeks gestation in need of monitoring and treatment, they will find themselves on the third floor of Memorial Hospital.

On the third floor of Memorial Hospital, every day, little ones are learning to breathe.  As the lungs are among the last organs to develop in utero, it is often the case that most pre-mature babies find themselves on continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines or ventilators for assistance, gently reminding them of the rhythmic lullaby of inhale-exhale.

On the third floor of Memorial Hospital, whenever a young group of high school students (or anyone who has never experienced the quiet thunder of unparalleled intimacy comes into the NICU), it is amazing how swiftly they are reminded of their own breathe.  When seeing a 2-pound child, isolated in an incubator, with tubes and probes poking out of every orifice:  A gasp, forget to exhale.

Without fail, every first visit to the NICU is uncompromisingly transformative.  An impossible blend of tragic and inspiring confronts every sense, and we reframe everything we ever thought we knew about “need.”

For me, this is the best moment in all my work, and I take absolutely no credit for it.  Even the greatest teacher in the world cannot teach the sudden awareness and clarity of mind that that moment brings.

This is the critical junction, the fulcrum and the axis.  This is Aristotle’s peripeteia, around which everything falls:


When I first visited the NICU, I met a 17-week premature baby girl with underdeveloped vocal cords.  She was asleep, comfortably heated in her isolette until she woke up, crying.  She turned to me, open-mouthed, full-throated, silent.  I think of her every time I get off the elevator on the third floor of Memorial Hospital.

Six years later, I’m taking my seventh school up to the third floor.  I’m wondering how many patients are checked in, if there are any parents with them, and if those are the type of parents – somehow, against all odds – that wants to share with complete strangers the most precious part of their lives.  I cannot imagine, so I thank them.  I thank the nurses, and I thank the children.

This really is the best part of the job.


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Oh, the talented Mr.’s SHS!

Jackie Wager

by Jackie Wagner

It was such a blessing to attend and volunteer at the Mr. SHS pageant at Sunnyside High School last Saturday, March 23rd.  They raised over $4,170 and put on a heck of a show.  It was my first time, and it did not disappoint!

Mr. SHS contestans are so incredibly talented. I heard them play the piano, the drums, trumpet, a sousaphone and so many singers; they were phenomenal dancers too.   The really represented their school so well.

023mrshsdance 023mrshsjerrydance 023mrshssousaphone 023mrshshorse 

023mrshsgavinGavin O’Leary (left), our new Mr. SHS, really deserved the crown!  At the pageant, he sang an amazing, emotionally-charged rendition of “Everybody Talks.”

At YouthWorks activities, Gavin was always really engaged and compassionate, so congratulations to Gavin!  He was fantastic… And so is his hair!

No stranger to the stage, Gavin will be performing a one-man show in May, with all proceeds benefitting YouthWorks.

Also, one of the funniest talents I have ever seen happened at the Mr. SHS pageant:  Sergio Ramirez decided to do a makeup tutorial.  As you might have guessed, my inital reaction was that this is clearly a thoughtless and pointless non-talent…

But soon you find out he is going to make himself look like Leonardo Decaprio in the Titanic  He then proceeded to dump water on his head in a kiddie pool on stage, put foundation and white paint on his face, hairspray his hair, and finish it off with some blue on his lips and under his eyes. Not only the scene hilarious, but he was cracking jokes the whole time!

023mrshstakeone023mrshstaketwoIt was evident, throughout the whole show, that both the Mr. SHS contestants and coordinators all cared very much – for the YouthWorks cause and for each other.  It translated into a truly enjoyable show:  I loved it!


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My Voice: Youth Participation in an Adult-Driven World

introducing Dalainee Viernes

“Not taking youth seriously isn’t just a political reaity; I am carving out space for my own voice right here, right now as a part of the YouthWorks Council. I am a young adult giving my say and taking charge of youth health in the YakimaValley.”

On a late Tuesday night in November, I found myself curled up on my couch under a mountain of blankets watching the news. It was sort of an important night for America: election night 2012. Every four years, I find myself in this same position, eagerly counting the electoral votes with the TV, phone in one hand (texting my friends) and my iPad on my lap, keeping track of Facebook and Twitter.

I had just missed the cut off for voting in 2012; I turned eighteen just four months later. As it was, some of my friends could vote in the election, but most were in the same predicament as me and had to wait another four years.

Still, I was wrought with nerves. I had watched the presidential campaign closely and was shockingly mentally and emotionally involved in this race. I kept most of my attention on the news announcing electoral votes as they were cast, but a small amount of my attention had to the social networking feeds in my hand.

“…youth today suffer not from a lack of interest, I think, but rather from a comprehensive belief that they don’t have a say until they are legally defined as “adults.””

In this day and age, social networking has just as much of an impact on my political views as my own research and experiences, and I was dismayed to find that my friends did not share the same interests as myself. Unfortunately, the general consensus of the youth of Twitter and Facebook seemed to revolve around one idea: “Can’t vote? Can’t talk.” Basically, they all thought that if you were too young to vote, then you had no right to an opinion, or at least no right to voice that opinion. “We don’t care” was trending among my friends.

I couldn’t believe that so many of my generation had no interest in something that would largely affect THEIR future… In fact, I didn’t believe it and I still don’t. The youth today suffer not from a lack of interest, I think, but rather from a comprehensive belief that they don’t have a say until they are legally defined as “adults.” We believe that our opinion does not matter in the real world because the real world doesn’t take us seriously.

And we’re right– the adults of the world do not take the younger generation seriously.

What my generation needs to realize that though we may be young, we still have the right to a voice.  And that voice can and should be heard. We, united, must bring ourselves to advocate for ourselves.

Who else will?

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Sure FairVote and The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) do great work studying youth impact, spreading the good word, etc. But ultimately, it is on us, young people, to get engaged.

Not taking youth seriously isn’t just a political reaity; I am carving out space for my own voice right here, right now as a part of the YouthWorks Council. I am a young adult taking charge, saying my say about youth health in the YakimaValley.

I may not have been able to vote this past election, but there are opportunities everywhere.  And I will make absolutely sure, without a shadow of a doubt, in everything I do, that my voice is heard.


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“What do you say to your friend on the edge?”: Watching Teen Depression Happen

Alyssa Armbrusterby Alyssa Armbruster

“Don’t argue with them. Don’t make the situation about you. Don’t lecture them or tell them what they are thinking is wrong.  Don’t promise confidentiality or offer to fix their problems.  And especially, especially don’t blame yourself.”

Through the endless tears, stress, long drawn out secrets and countless nights on the phone, this week has been a changing point in my life, for better or worse.

It began a few weeks ago, when a few evident changes occurred in my best friend.  She went from happy go lucky, sweet and kind to everyone she met, to manic depressive, caught on a roller coaster of emotions. As time progressed, her smile began to fade and her hair was noticeably falling out. She had confided in me, months prior, that she was diagnosed with a mild anxiety disorder and had begun a new medication routine.  We had come to believe that the medication was her saving grace from the panic attacks she suffered due to her anxiety.

We were so wrong.

In class, I passed a note containing a joke that I knew would make her smile. Instead, she shrugged it off and whispered that she needed to speak to me after class. I was expecting her to confide in me the usual problems, with her boyfriend, school, or her job.  I wasn’t prepared for bombshell she dropped.

She had been experiencing fits of mania, followed by strong desires to commit suicide when the depression took over.

What do you say to your friend on the edge?

My friend was unwilling to share too much more, just that she had a plan on how she would do it. She refused to tell her parents, teachers, or anyone with any real authority or means to help her overcome the conundrum she faced. Since she wasn’t willing, I had to be for her. As days past, I found myself attempting to carry my friend’s burdens.

I tried to make everything better for her and essentially caudle her.  I suggested she speak to her parents, secretly dying for someone else to know her secret.  Every step of the way she fought me, saying they wouldn’t understand nor would they be capable of helping her. It was clear she was relying on me to be her crutch. Her secret was weighing the both of us down. At this moment, neither of us bore any resemblance to who we used to be. We wear matching dark shadows, bags under our eyes, and grimaces. I wasn’t sure how long I was going to continue carrying her, until I was told a statement that placed everything into perspective:

“Do you want to lose her friendship, knowing not only will she hate your presence, but be safe and alive. Or do you want to see her dead? It will end in one of two ways. Whatever one you pick will say more about you than your words.”

It breaks my heart to know that these are the last days she will call me her friend.

Since she wasn’t willing, I had to be for her. One of the first things I did was call the suicide prevention hotline. A national hotline dedicated to reaching out to those individuals who are struggling and in need of a confidant to ventt heir despair, and discover how to be brought back from the brink.  I asked the woman who answered for advice on how to effectively communicate with my friend, on how best to convince her to seek help.

The pointers she gave me helped me come to the realization that I must be direct in confronting my friend and her parents.

To my friend,

 I love you more than you know. I hope one day you will see that what I am about to do is to ensure you are happy and healthy one day.  Maybe one day you won’t see me as the enemy for telling your parents. I’m sorry, but it had to be done.

At this moment, her mother’s cell phone is ringing… I only hope she answers…

To the reader,

Are you or someone you know battling with the beast, trying to overcome the call of suicide?

You are not alone.

Everyday those of every age come faced with this decision for a multitude of reasons.  If you are suffering, let your parents, teachers, or any adult you trust know. Let them know that you need their support.  If you need help talking about any aspect, visit the suicide hotline prevention website.

If someone you know is thinking about committing suicide, contact their parents, teachers, or someone who can do something for the person you know who is struggling. That person might be you.

Don’t argue with them. Don’t make the situation about you. Don’t lecture them or tell them what they are thinking is wrong.  Don’t promise confidentiality or offer to fix their problems.  And especially, especially don’t blame yourself.

Provide hope and support.  Seek professional help, and make sure your friend is following-up on treatment. If the doctor prescribes medication, make sure your friend takes it as directed. Be proactive at offering assistance and encourage them to make positive lifestyle changes: a healthy diet, plenty of sleep, and even getting outside for at least half an hour a day. Help that person develop a set of steps he or she can to follow for themselves during this time of crisis. Remove potential means of suicide like pills, knives, razors, or firearms. And continue your support through the long haul.

Don’t wait till it’s too late. 

Courtesy of

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Mr. Davis 2013 Recap

by Jacqueline Wagner

In addition to serving as YouthWorks Secretary and BlogMaster, Jackie just wrapped up her second year as coordinator of the Mr. Davis pageant, February 26th 2013.  Mr. Davis 2013 is the first pageant in years to break the $20,000 threshold and needless to say, Jackie’s a bit proud… and quite rightly so:

Say hello to our new Mr. Davis: Timmy Nagle-McNaughton!

The photo is a few years old, admittedly...
The photo is a few years old, admittedly…

Okay, here:

2013 Mr. Davis
2013 Mr. Davis

He raised over $2,500 for YouthWorks, and all together, the Mr. Davis pageant raised over $20,000!!!

As a member of the YouthWorks council I am ecstatic with the amount of money Mr. Davis raised.

As a coordinator for the pageant, I am so very proud of the 10 guys that devoted their time and efforts to raise this money!  Not only did they help children with special needs with the funds raised, but they also volunteered at slug bugs and toured Memorial’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Children’s Village.

These experiences truly helped all the guys understand why they were raising money, and how families in and around our community need as much as help as possible because of the cost of special doctors’ appointments, driving around the state, and the little things most parents normally don’t have to deal with.

020 timmy and bryanThe night of the pageant, the guys all did brilliantly with their child escorts as well as their talents. Sam Legg and Zach Fisher sang and performed an incredible four chords song with the keyboard and the help of a kazoo, respectively.  While Timmy and Bryan Ball did a dance to the song “Sisters” (left) and they dressed up in tutus and had effeminate fans!

They were  all fantastic!


I still cannot believe that this is my last year with the Mr. Davis pageant and raising money for YouthWorks.  I know Davis will continue to raise more and more money every year and continue to do an amazing job (while raise the most money out of every high school!) Pirate Pride!

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YouthWorks + Gymnastics Plus = Children’s Wellness

Madison Campbellby Madison Campbell

I support Children's Wellness!This February, YouthWorks launched our first ever Children’s Wellness Month.  Community businesses demonstrated solidarity with families of special needs kids by raising awareness and funds.  Throughout the month, they sold hearts (left) for $1 each.  The heart was designed by a young patient at Children’s Village and was voted winner of YouthWorks’ “For the Love of the Village” Art Contest.

On Monday, February 18th, Gymnastics Plus and Youthworks at Memorial teamed up for a day of celebration and fundraising.

That's me working with the kids!

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Laurie Reid, owner of the local Gymnastics Plus and Kids Castle, donated $2 of every child’s admission on Monday to help support Children’s Wellness Month. Gymnastics Plus and Memorial Youthworks teaming up was a wonderful opportunity for us to get the word out about our organization and what we are all about.

It was awesome to walk around the gym and hear the chitter chatter about Children’s Wellness Month; it is a great feeling to know that this event helped create a buzz about Youthworks.

There were many children at the Gym on Monday, some regulars and some kids I met for the very first time. It was amazing to see kids from Children’s Village playing at the gym playing, and enjoying themselves.

Those kids are the reason Youthworks exists in the first place, or even does events like this. The children I interacted with on Monday are each amazing little lights; I only hope they know how grateful I am that they came to play on President’s Day.

Thank you, Gymnastics Plus! And thank you, kids!


We additionally extend our sincerest gratitude to the following Yakima businesses that also participated in Children’s Wellness Month:
Deep Sea Deli
Dr. Lyle I. Bonny, DDS
Dr. Steven A. Brazeau, DDS
El Sol Panaderia
Glisten Hair and Tanning
Inklings Bookshop
Jackson’s Sports Bar & Grill
Oak Hollow Frames &Gallery
Loo Wit Gardens
Mi Pueblo Market
Pac Sun
Panaderia Delicias
Tammy’s Mexican Restaurant
Ted Brown Music
We look forward to building on the success we had this year, and making it an even bigger for the next!

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Valentine’s Day Resolution

Jackie Wagnerby Jacqueline Wagner

“[YouthWorks is] about making all kids, no matter what their needs feel comfortable, loved, and special; similar to how every person wants to feel on Valentine’s Day.”


Hello to all of you single ladies and gentlemen and all of you women and men in relationships. Happy belated Valentine’s Day! I hope your 14th was fantastic.

For me, Valentine’s day is a time to spread love around, no matter if you are in a relationship or not.

That’s why, at my school, now wanting we tried to spread love throughout AC Davis High with popsicle sticks.  No wanting anybody to feel left out, we tried to make everyone feel special, and told them to pass it on throughout the school. This project reminded me a lot of what we do on the YouthWorks council.

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Collectively, YouthWorks tries and spread love and joy throughout the entire community, currently we are doing this by the heart sales for Children’s Wellness Month at select stores like Lincoln Ave. Espresso, and Ted Browns Music.

We also are doing Mr. Pageants at local high schools in order to spread awareness and get more people involved. The guys involved in the pageants also come to help children with special needs at events like slugbugs, where children with special needs play basketball every Saturday, and the guys help make their day perfect.

YouthWorks is not all about fundraising money. It’s about making all kids, no matter what their needs feel comfortable, loved, and special; similar to how every person wants to feel on Valentine’s Day.

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