A Story of Partnership: Helping At-Risk Youth Build Memories

Tuesday, Sep 05, 2017

teenage girls kayakingAt the North State Food Bank, we have a lot of partners who work with us to ensure that the families they come in contact with have enough food to live healthy lives. One such partner is the Oroville Seventh Day Adventist Church. Valinda Wilkins is part of the church’s community outreach program, and was kind enough to write a letter to us letting us know how the work we are doing allows her to do the work she is doing with at-risk youth in her neighborhood.

 

Here is what she had to say on August 12, 2017:

 

Dear Lisa & Lee,

 

I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for the benefit of your Food & Nutrition services. As I have mentioned before, I would not be able to extend services to the many neighborhood children without your assistance.

 

I am so fortunate to witness young children experience pleasure, learn to trust, and/or escape their daily complicated lives. It is clear that many children may not have such experiences and opportunities provided by our services without your assistance.

 

I took a group of 18 children/teenagers camping at 1000 Trails in Marysville on Tuesday, August 10th (many of whom had not camped before). The trip began with the children having lunch in a beautiful scenic area under the trees. They shared stories of their childhood and daily experiences. They told silly jokes and laughed heartedly. After lunch and relaxing, they went swimming in the pool and played pool games that was a bundle of joy. They ended the excursion with kayaking in the beautiful lake.

 

I wanted to share the experience with you for two reasons.  First, I find myself trying to express the joy I get of helping our children. Expressing this joy (in passing) doesn’t seem to do justice. I get to hear their laughter, experience their joy and see them become vulnerable enough to emote and release pent up stress. Secondly, I wanted to share my joy of seeing what is possible when we invest in the lives of our underprivileged children. Some stories include the teen mother who would not be able to enjoy her children at the level she did on our trip; the preteen who said she has never kayaked before; the child who is left home alone with no activity until her parent returns from work; finally, the child who reportedly had not laughed as she did during our trip in years.

 

While our regular activities may seem small, we must remember that these are their “good old days” and we are given a golden opportunity to make a difference by investing in their lives. By doing so, we are slowly but surely changing anger to cheer, sad to happy, and violence to peace. Surly, our small tasks are huge in the lives of many of our neighborhood children.

 

Thank you for being available for people such as myself to extend the services to the many children in our community.

 

Sincerely,

Valinda Wilkins

 

Valinda, thank YOU for the love you have for children, and for partnering with our Food & Nutrition program in your area. And thank you for your kind words to our staff. We are all doing what we do because we care for families and want to do all we can to alleviate the challenges of poverty in our County. You are a shining example of going beyond the physical needs, to meet the deeper need for connection, fun, and good old memory making!

 

At Community Action Agency’s North State Food Bank, we salute you!

 

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