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. Sarah Mitchell, Jomay Ruiz and Mark Day spoke to The Memorial Foundation President, Anne Napier Caffery, and the Allocations Committee as delegates of the YouthWorks Council, making their formal recommendations for the allocation of YouthWorks funds. For the 2011-2012 fiscal year, YouthWorks raised and allocated over $54,000.
The YouthWorks Council’s first recommendation was that Memorial’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) receive $38,000 to fully fund their continued collaboration with the Vermont Oxford Network, a nation-wide collaborative compiling and monitoring data to improve the overall quality and safety of care for newborns and infants. The council then recommended that Children’s Village general budget receive the remainder of the YouthWorks funds, entrusting the leadership to invest areas of greatest need.
All one2one mentors at Children’s Village, each council representative held a personal stake in this year’s recommendation. The Council felt strongly that they wanted to choose a program with needs they could fully fund. Ruiz coordinated this past year’s Mr. Davis pageant, and will do so again this coming year. For her and the her like-minded council representatives, providing funds for the NICU was a top priority.
“[Davis High School] raised more than any other participating high school [this past year], and that was in large part because of the pageant contestants’ tour of the NICU,” said Ruiz to The Memorial Foundation President, Anne Napier Caffery, and the Allocations Committee . “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, the council hopes 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.