Another year of the highly successful Mayor’s Youth Commission is just about finished, and this spring the members have had a chance to learn to deal with money in a way that truly benefits worthy causes, as well as navigate the process of project selection, execution, and accountability. “In a way,” said Mayor Marks, “they are learning what it is like to be on City Council.” The kids “came into” a sum of $3500, which was sent to the Commission by the Dekko Foundation as part of their 35th anniversary celebration. Dekko’s mission is to “foster economic freedom through education,” and is highly vested in preparing students for the future.
The kids decided to give away $3,000 and keep $500 for the Commission. They came up with a protocol for which kind of entities would receive the designated grants, and two of the requirements were that they were a genuine non-profit, and that it could be demonstrably shown that the grant would be a benefit to Athens. They advertised, and received a number of responses. The grant applications were graded on how well the desired project was planned, and how well the grant application was worded. In addition, the kids did the leg work with regard to securing proof of an organization’s non-profit status.
Some of the contenders were Relay for Life, Keep Athens Limestone Beautiful, the Animal Shelter, Camp Hope, the Boys’ and Girls’ Club, the Girl Scouts, Hospice of Limestone County, the Athens Art League, and others.
The students met at Leak City on March 16th for their final meeting with regard to the Dekko grant, and the awardees were: Camp Hope, Keep Athens Limestone Beautiful, Athens Arts League, Boys and Girls Club, MTM Corporation, and Girl Scouts Service Unit 210.
After they concluded their business, (which almost always occurs over pizza), they were on to their next learning experience. Athens Fire and Rescue invited them to watch MES (Municipal Emergency Services) extrication training at Leak City on Sanderfer Road. The training is for firefighters from Athens Fire and Rescue, and Clements Volunteer Fire Dept. In addition, 72 Automotive donated vehicles for the exercise. They even got to handle the extraction equipment, and everyone received an “up close and personal” reason to quit texting and driving, which is one of the biggest causes of death amongst teens.
We talked about what it was like to consider that another graduating class was nearly upon us, and that it was basically only 60 days until these guys were cut loose to be on their own and find their way. I for one am glad that the Mayor, Holly Hollman, and others have taken the time to train the next generation. Someday, they’ll be making all the decisions, and we are going to need every bit of wisdom that has been put in them.
He told me that there are a couple of students in the Commission that are heading toward their Eagle Scout badge, and for at least one of their projects, they saw to it that all the current playground equipment at the Sportsplex was pressure washed. In addition, they are helping to get the “All Kids” equipment ready to rock and roll. The All Kids playground equipment is especially designed for disabled children, and can even make a way for kids in wheelchairs to be able to swing on swings in the park.
There is a certain look of joy that the Mayor gets on his face when he talks about “his kids,” and I could tell that all of the “blood, sweat, and tears” from this year had paid off as he told me their stories. He had to get to another meeting, so we prayed, and then, it was time once again for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner