by Lorie Lewis Ham
Recently the Reedley Downtown Association (RDA) asked their membership, as well as individuals, to consider sponsoring a teen parent and their family through Community Youth Ministry’s (CYM) teen parent program this Christmas.
“The RDA board was looking for a worthy project to help in the community, and this collaboration is the happy result,” said Lisa Adams, President of the RDA and a Vice President/Branch Manager of Rabobank. Lisa is also on the board of CYM. “The RDA was simply the intermediary for this – the contributors of the gifts were our membership, some other individuals, and their families. Also, since several of us are Rotarians as well, there were Rotary members that contributed as well.”
Many downtown merchants and interested individuals were involved, and a total of 17 families were sponsored. Those involved included Scott Preheim of Preheim’s Jewelry, Eric Parichan of Sam’s Shoes who provided each child with a pair of shoes or slippers, and Andrew Shinn of Shinn Photography.
“The Reedley Downtown Association is always looking for ways to improve the quality of life in Reedley,” shared Scott Preheim. “Our board of directors embraced the idea of supporting a local group that does so much to help the youth in our community.”
Scott helped coordinate the gifts that were purchased. “The generosity of people in Reedley is just amazing. We had hundreds of donations. Our store was the gathering point for the donations.” From there they went to Rabobank, where they were wrapped, bagged and tagged, and then collected by CYM in hopes of giving these families a brighter Christmas.
“I have had family members that have benefited from these types of charities in the past and I am always happy to give back if I am able,” said another involved RDA member, Terri Aal, owner of Garnishes Boutique & Floral.
“Teen parents participate in Community Youth Ministries programs for vocational training (Fresh Start Cafe) as well as support and mentoring through our weekly Teen Mom’s Program,” stated Kim Johnson CYM Teen Parent Program Coordinator. “The parents in these two groups were chosen to be sponsored through the Reedley Downtown Association to receive gifts for themselves and their children.”
The mission of CYM is to serve the social and spiritual needs of area youth by supplementing the work of community agencies, schools, and churches to ensure that every child has a strong sense of self-worth, knowledge to make positive decisions, skills needed for future success, and supportive community relationships. CYM’s motto is ‘igniting the light within.’ “This is specifically done with Teen Parents by ‘igniting the light within’ them through vocational training, mentoring, parenting and relational support, and goal setting,” continued Kim.
RDA asked each sponsor to buy a warm piece of clothing for the parent and child, a toy, and if applicable diapers, wipes, and baby things. “The response was overwhelming,” said Lisa.
Another local community member who belongs to a wood working group donated a lot of toys for both the Teen Parent program and a toy drive also taking place at Rabobank for CYM Kids Club. “These were hand crafted cars, cradles (with hand made little quilts from a quilting group), craft boxes and many other things,” continued Lisa.
For the toy drive, Rabobank set up a table in the lobby with several pictures of kids in the CYM Kids Club, shared Lisa. There they put a small tree up with an ornament that represented a child in the Kids Club, and customers and employees took an ornament and brought back an unwrapped gift for one of these children. “This is the second year we have done this and got a great response. We have several customers who will bring a little something each time they come.”
On Thursday, December 16, each of the 17 families in the CYM Teen Parents program received a large gift bag with a variety of wrapped gifts in them.