On Tuesday, I received word of a very good opportunity for youth in Plainfield. The information is in the blog post, "SSYC Foundation Offers Youth Opportunity."
Coming the day after two appeals from groups at the City Council meeting, it couldn't have been more timely. Two groups asked the governing body for help in creating a community center, but here is word from an organization in a center that has been in existence since 1957. I believe there are many other established groups and organizations in the city that offer programs for young people and I wish there was a directory or even a list of them.
It is always commendable when new groups form and want to serve youth or other underserved populations. What I have never liked is the notion that unless such-and-such group is backed by the city, young people have no other choice but the street. It would be more helpful, while such groups are organizing and finding their own funding through grants and donations, to partner with existing groups to serve youth.
"These young ones, they want something from us," one speaker said Monday.
Perhaps while new groups are adding their energy to the mix, young people can explore what already exists in Plainfield. Sports leagues, church-based mentoring groups, Scouts, YMCA leadership training, Boys & Girls Club, sororities and fraternities and social organizations that promote passage to responsible adulthood - all these are here and more. My own favorite stop after school was the public library in my hometown.
The city provides youth employment every summer where teens can learn about the workings of government and some of our city and state officials got their start right in City Hall. Mayor Adrian O. Mapp is planning a youth summit and other ways to engage young people. Someone mentioned reviving the Youth Commission. There are actually two Youth Commissions on the books and neither has any current members. More on that topic later.
No amount of good will toward youth may save those bent on gang activity and gun violence. Some have chosen that bad path and will not be deterred. The majority, I believe, are hoping to grow up to become responsible adults, even if they have big challenges at present. They need to know where help exists in Plainfield now.