Outside of school and sports, youth have access to a number of local organizations that promote leadership, teamwork, and service. These opportunities allow preteens, teenagers, and young adults to become involved in their community, develop professional skills, and have fun with their peers.
Local Alpena youth and guest blogger, Lara King, gives us a look at some of the ways young people can get involved in the community.
The Teen Advisory Board (TAB) is one of the Alpena County Library’s new programs available to local youth. TAB members use creativity, teamwork, and service to directly impact the library’s activities and events targeted toward teenagers. During monthly meetings, they choose the movies for the regular movie nights, suggest new offerings for the Teen Zone section of the library like ukuleles and graphic novels, and brainstorm ideas for teen-focused events. Members develop leadership skills and have fun as they create an inviting atmosphere in the library for teens. Jessica Luther, the Assistant Director and founder of TAB, says she hopes that participants gain a “sense of belonging” in the library, which “strives to nurture teens’ values, identity, and skills necessary to grow and thrive”. TAB members must be between the ages of 13 and 18, be able to commit to monthly hour-long meetings, and have an interest in making the library a more accessible, inviting place for their peers to enjoy.
The next meeting is on October 18th at 3:30pm in the Teen Zone. For more information, check out the website https://www.alpenalibrary.org/teen to download an application. To keep updated on the latest news and events, follow the TAB Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/alpenalibraryteens/
The Alpena Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has founded the Junior Committee for high school students interested in becoming more involved in downtown Alpena. Throughout the school year, students will develop, organize, and execute a project for the area. They will be given the opportunity to network and collaborate with their peers in addition to developing marketing and teamwork skills. Kingsli Kraft, DDA intern and the founder of the Junior Committee, says that students will also have access to “professional development resources” such as writing resumes, interviewing for jobs, and communicating effectively.
Junior Committee members be enrolled in high school, attend regular meetings, and complete 20 hours of volunteer work downtown. Fill out the Google Form to apply: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSckISivcUk2Tz5W3sE_hDQSxBeLz-DxHsEZdKGstqfmA58dAg/viewform
The Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan (CFNEM) offers a Youth Advisory Council (YAC) for youth who are passionate about addressing the needs of the community through service work and philanthropy. The program is offered through the CFNEM as well as its affiliate foundation. There are 130 YAC members in Northeast Michigan alone, and 19 participating school systems. In 1993, the program was founded by the Council of Michigan Foundations and the Kellogg Foundation, which also provided endowed funds to community foundations throughout the state. The Kellogg Youth Endowment Fund, which awards grants in the Alcona, Alpena, Montmorency, and Presque Isle counties, has $1.2 million in assets. According to Christine Bruske-Hitch, the CFNEM Marketing Communications Director and Affiliate Director, the fund awards around $50,000 annually to youth-oriented nonprofits in the area. Through YAC, young people determine the recipients of these grants.
The four central pillars of the YAC program are grantmaking, leadership, community service, and philanthropy. Ms. Bruske-Hitch says that members are given the privilege to directly influence and improve their community by recommending nonprofits for grants and by earning leadership positions. As officers, they even have the chance to become trustees with full voting rights on the CFNEM Board of Trustees. By participating in the program, young people develop crucial leadership skills and play important roles in the grantmaking process. They also learn about the positive impact of their voices and opinions as they witness how philanthropy and service impact their fellow youth.
Members are required to be between the ages of 12 to 21 and attend meetings on a regular basis. Check out the website http://www.cfnem.org/youth-advisory-councils/ for more information about becoming a member.
For those who do not meet the age limit for the previous organizations, the Alpena Junior Chamber is an excellent opportunity for young professionals between the ages of 21 and 40. The Junior Chamber aims to empower and inspire positive growth in their members through opportunities like leadership training. Members of the program learn to escape their comfort zones and challenge themselves as people and as community leaders. They explore new environments, develop critical thinking skills, and have fun through a variety of social opportunities, such as family-friendly parties or adults-only get togethers. According to Amanda Harrison, the president of the Junior Chamber, members have access to statewide, nationwide, and even international networking. Service work and volunteering are important aspects of the club. One of the Junior Chamber’s latest projects is the Coats for Kids program, which collects new winter gear to donate to local disadvantaged children.
Members are required to pay the annual fee of $70 and be motivated to positively impact the community. The next meeting will be held on October 19th at 7pm at Jimmy Chen’s Hunan Restaurant. For more information, check out their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/JCIAlpena/ or contact Amanda Harrison at 989-464-7920 or firstname.lastname@example.org.