On God’s Front Portch

Written by: Chelsea M. Stallings, BSW student at IUPUI

Life is too short and we need to enjoy the small things, like being in the woods. I have been spending a lot of my time in the woods and it has been teaching me how to be a true hunter. I am very new at this, but I have been waiting my whole life to learn this trade. I am so passionate about hunting that I find myself always looking for deer when I drive pass a cornfield and scanning the sky for birds. Being a female participating in this male dominated sport, gives me more of a drive to become a great hunter. Someone wise once told me, “patience is key, sometimes you just need to sit back and watch the woods come alive”. 
Just recently I have been blessed with a few people who have taken me under their wings. These people have spent a lot of time with me and I can’t explain how thankful I am. From spending quality time in the duck blind, shooting arrows in the backyard, and sitting patiently in a tree stand, have been some of my greatest memories. My hunting buddies have made all of these memories special and I can’t thank them enough for letting a girl join in on their secrets.  
January 13, 2013 one of our hunting buddies was taken from us. Justin Kroh was a good guy who I got to know through spending time in the woods. He was a beginner like me so I could connect with him on that level. Justin was there every weekend ready to corner him a monster. He didn’t talk much, but his actions were powerful. One of his best friends decided to name one of the stands, Kroh Corner. It is going to be tough going back to the woods without him, but that place is where we all can feel him in some way.
Hunting is not only the most exciting sport in the world; it brings family and friends together. I have learned that even on a day when you don’t see a thing you are still spending time with awesome people who have the same interest as you. Also, I have discovered “woods therapy” and how it really helps me. When you are sitting anxiously in a stand, you get plenty of time to think. Sometimes I think about homework assignments I need to complete, how much my grandparents make me laugh, or how blessed I am. Even if you don’t enjoy hunting as much as I do, you should set time aside to just enjoy nature and the beauty of the world. And don’t forget to tell the ones you love how much you appreciate them.

Importance of Youth Mentoring

By: Public Relations Intern at MCCOY- Ivy McConnell

I want to start the year off by expressing the importance of youth mentoring. As I think about my life and the direction I decide to take with education, extra curricular activities, and my career choice, I realized that I am the woman I am today because I had a great mentors when I was younger.

I attend Pike High School a little over ten years ago. I remember my college mentors and my Fashion Design Teacher. My college mentors made a vast impact in my life as a teenager by introducing me to the option to go to college and took me to universities for campus visits so I could choose a major and create connects before I attend. While I’m visiting, doing research on majors and figuring out my purpose in life. I was taking a few fashion design classes under the teaching of Mrs. Sutton. I decided to take her classes because I love fashion and wanted to create my own clothes instead of purchasing another persons idea. After a year, she entered me into fashion shows and contests around the city so I can show off my original designs. One day, after school she sat me down and told me that I should make my hobby into a career in fashion. I’m thinking I can’t make a living off of designing and constructing clothes. She really believed in me and my talent to help others. Therefore, I went to my college mentors and they help me choose Ball State University.

Ball State have one of the largest fashion programs in the country! I pursed my BS in Apparel Design and Fashion Merchandising with a minor in Marketing. WOW! I double majored and came out as a Store Manager and Stylist of my own store. Little did I know that Mrs. Sutton was mentoring me for two years. She mold and guide me to follow my dreams and make a career out my passion. Not to mention, my college mentors were the reason why I was very involved on campus taking on leadership roles while being a active citizen in my community.

I strongly encourage you to sign up at mentoring organization or program here in Indianapolis. Organizations like Trusted Mentors , Indiana Youth Institute The Alliance of Youth Mentoring Agencies of Central  Indiana and 100 Black Men Indianapolis, are a great start to get involve. Not to mention, you may be mentoring a young person right now and don’t recognize it. Get involve in 2013 with youth mentoring. You will change yours and their life forever!

A Pioneer in Youth Advocacy: Jane Addams

Jane Addams, Nobel Peace Prize winner and widely accepted to be the founder of social work in the United States, was also one of the most influential advocates for children in our nation’s history.
Cate, a 3rd-grader, tells us the story of Jane Addams and the Hull House:
Addams is best known for founding the Hull House in Chicago in 1889, which provided a variety of support and services to the local marginalized immigrant population.  She lived and worked there until her death in 1935.
While the Hull House served everyone in the neighborhood, many of the efforts were quite specific to children.  The Hull House provided day care and kindergarten services for working parents.  However, this was no ordinary childcare environment.  The children of Hull House had access to art, a library, and plenty of freedom to exercise and just play – very unusual luxuries for most children born into these poor and struggling immigrant families.  In fact, children during this time were often expected to work long hours in deplorable conditions alongside their parents.
The pervasiveness of child labor was deeply upsetting to Addams.  She was a very active in lobbying for policy that would end child labor, which was finally enacted on the federal level in 1916.  Additionally, she helped to create the first juvenile court.  She was vice-president of the Campfire Girls, and a member of the executive boards of the National Playground Association and the National Child Labor Committee.

Today, thanks to the trailblazers of the past, there are countless ways to serve and advocate for young people in our community.  From mentoring, to supporting legislation that would lead to positive youth outcomes, to donating time and money to youth advocacy organizations, we all have the power to be champions for our youth.  
What will you do?

Revenge Written by: Hollyn Meador

Revenge.  Some would say it is a necessary justification to injustice.  Others might say it has no place in the world.  By what means is revenge justifiable?  How far is one “allowed” to go, while maintaining a moral compass?  Can revenge exist for some circumstances and not others? 

These are questions that the ABC television serious Revengeposes.  The themes of justice, forgiveness, morality, love, deceit, and power are intertwined within plots, subplots, and more underlying subplots.  Emily VanCamp plays Emily Thorne/Amanda Clarke, the main character.  Born as Amanda Clarke, Emily Thorne returns to the Hamptons as a charitable socialite plotting her father’s vengeance on a wrongful conviction framed by the wealthy Grayson family.  Her father, David Clarke, was sent to federal prison on account of terrorism responsible for downing one of the planes in the 9/11 attacks.

I have been watching this television series for a few weeks now and I am totally enthralled.  My favorite kinds of movies and shows are the ones that keep unveiling layers and layers of connections and new storylines.  The element of surprise can be somewhat addicting.  Not only do I enjoy the entertainment piece, but also I enjoy how the show helps me reflect upon life.  It represents deeper issues of society.  Issues of self-preservation and how far people are willing to go and compromise themselves for the sake of protecting their pride.  It makes me wonder what kind of high society crime does not get exposed on the news.  It also makes me wonder how this kind of show may influence or effect our teen population in regards to bullying.  The show may perpetuate behaviors like bullying or perpetuate revenge back on a bully from the victim. 

The irony with revenge is that in retaliating back from a wrongdoing against us, we commit the same wrongdoing, however, it may feel more justified.  But just because it feels more justified, does that make it right?  This may be the underlying deceit in the idea that revenge is truly fulfilling and satisfying, when in reality, it may not be.  The power to forgive the person who wronged us may be far more rewarding than taking the same action one experienced from that bully back onto him or her.

In the show (as in life), it is easy to judge each character, the choices they make and the sins of their past and present.  Then I wonder, “What if I was in their position?” “What if I was experiencing this high degree of righteous anger, so much so to move me to doing something?”  “What would I do?”  As I watch the plots unfold, I find myself tearing up at the heartbreak and the struggle of being a product of someone else’s consequences.   Life-changing consequences.

What I am learning from the television show, Revenge, is that sometimes life struggles consist of mostly gray areas.  The gray areas move us into a place of self-analysis and self-reflection.  A place to decide whom we want to be based on the choices of our actions, particularly when faced with hurt and disappointment.  To whom will we look for guidance?  How will we know we have made the right decision?

On more celebration before the month ends

Written by: Stephanie Freeman, MCCOY Communications Director
January is a month of many important celebrations: celebrations that bring us together as a community and inspire us to do better. This month we are called to create awareness of the importance of mentoring and the benefits it has on the mentee as well as the mentor.
A mentor is defined as a wise and trusted counselor or teacher or an influential supporter. A mentor can come in many forms – an older sibling, coach, co-worker, professor, etc. Mentors can be formal – assigned relationships, weekly meetings, and goals, or informal – with infrequent emails, texts and introductions to others. However the mentor-mentee relationship is established it is bound to be a learning experience.
I have been fortune to have mentors both personally and professionally that have helped me to get to where I am today. Personally, I have had friends and family that have turned into informal mentors, whom have taught me through their life-experiences how I want to lead my life. Professionally, I have had mentors assigned at work as well as informal mentors that I respect and admire their career courses. I have learned from each one of my mentors and they have helped to form the person I am today.
In my life, I have tried to help those younger than I am or those in need of support and advices. However,  I have not yet ventured into a formal relationships where I was the mentor. That is something that I would like to do.

According to the Indiana Mentoring Partnerships, “The most important resource you have is time. And, quality time with a caring adults can make a lasting difference in a child’s life. When you become a mentor, you will help a child or a teenager get the support and encouragement that they need to succeed in life. By mentoring a young person just one hour each week, you can:

  • Improve academic and study skills
  • Help a child discover new talents and ambitions
  • Provide moral support and confidence
  • Change a child’s life for the better
I encourage all of you to sign-up to be a mentor. In Indianapolis, there are more than 100 organizations that offer mentoring opportunities to young people in our community.
Visit: http://www.mccoyouth.org/Library/the-alliance-of-youth-mentoring-agencies-of-central-indiana.htmlfor a list of these organizations.  Wherever you decide to spend your time, please know that you will be making a difference in the life of another.

MLK Day Reflections

I had a college professor who reminded our class that Martin Luther King Jr. Day should be celebrated as, “a day-off from classes, but a day-on for education.” Indianapolis hosted a myriad of community festivals and free events to help us further our education and reconnect to our community and our past. Nationally, we celebrated the preservation of democracy as we watched President Obama swear in for his second term.

This day, which featured an intersection between legacies of our American past and projections onto our political future, certainly cultivated the climate for a “day-on” for education. And as we compare the country before us to the country that King envisioned, we know there is much work to do.

In his 1967 publication, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us that:

“There is nothing new about poverty. What is new, however, is that we now have the resources to get rid of it. The time has come for an all-out world war against poverty … The well off and the secure have too often become indifferent and oblivious to the poverty and deprivation in their midst. Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation. No individual or nation can be great if it does not have a concern for “the least of these.”

For Indiana youth and families, the threat of poverty has become all too real in the wake of the recession; from 1989 to 2011, Indiana saw the second largest increase in poverty of any state during that time according to a Reuter’s analysis of census data. The figures are worse for Indiana youth. According to IYI’sKids Count Data Book, 16% of all Hoosiers lived in poverty in 2011, while 23% of children under the age of 18 lived in poverty. 22.7% of children lived in households that are food insecure. And Indiana’s data only corroborates the present-day national landscape of poverty. According to US Census data 50 million Americans are living in poverty. With the new poor and near-poor included, that number balloons to 150 million Americans—nearly half the nation.

Radio personality and Indiana native, Tavis Smiley, launched a national campaign aimed at mustering the political will to do something about that. On Friday, January 18th in Clowes Memorial Hall at Butler University, Smiley and Princeton University Professor, Cornel West, launched their Vision for a New America: AFuture Without Poverty Tour. The tour’s central goal is to petition the President to hold a White House Conference on the eradication of poverty. You can express your views on the issue and sign that petition here. In Smiley’s words, addressing poverty in America, “is not a skill problem, it’s a will problem.”

Dr. King envisioned a country that strives towards principles of the “beloved community,” where love and support for fellow humans would eradicate racial, economic, and military violence.  Let’s take time today to celebrate his life’s work, to educate ourselves about the work still to be done, and to find our own place in furthering his dream.  

Youth Advocacy Council Update

These last few months have been a whirlwind for the YAC, from Real Talk Remix to listening sessions with the IPS School Board. Through all these experiences, the youth have decided on issues that they want to focus on in the coming year:
  •          Bullying
  •          Sexual Abuse
  •          Hunger
  •          Own Your Future
  •          Education Reform 

The youth will take these topics and a few more and present them at the ASC-Me Conference (Advocating, Skill building  Creating Solutions) on April 27. This day-long event will be open to youth all over the city.  The YAC will host breakout sessions on these important issues.  
These next few months will be busy as the youth try to learn as much as possible as they can about these issues. The youth will spend many hours designing a curriculum that will be easily understood by middle school and high school youth. They will develop activities that will help participants build skills in those areas and develop action steps.
If you think that this sounds like a lot, it is. If you would like to help in any way or know of a youth who would want to facilitate, please let me know. The YAC and us are really excited for this conference and are excited to see all of this year’s work come together.

Danielle Guerin

Youth Are Resources!

Last week I had the chance to attend the Project Kickoff Celebration for Youth As Resources at the Arthur M. Glick Jewish Community Center.  If you are not familiar with YAR and its work, then you are missing out on something special happening in our community.  YAR, a program of United Way of Central Indiana, is a youth/adult led entity which provides small grants to groups of young people who want to address a community need or problem that they have identified, researched, and developed a service project to address.  The service projects are as varied as the groups that propose them and the issues they are addressing;  but the common thread is a committed crew of youth who  believe they can make a difference and make our community a better place for others.
Through the years, what a difference they have made!  Since its beginning,  YAR has provided over $2 million to fund 1,384 projects involving almost 37,000 youth whose efforts have changed the lives of who knows how many people! Young people have brought smiles and gifts to our elderly; have taught young children how to make good decisions about drug and alcohol usage; helped peers to achieve academically and socially by leading skill development workshops; improved the environment of neighborhoods by leading cleanups; if you name it, a dedicated group of youth have probably carried out a service project—thanks to funding and guidance provided by Youth As Resources.
We all know what the research says:  a young person who volunteers and gives back to the community is much more likely to graduate from high school, do well in life, and continue their community action when they become adults.  The skills they hone to develop and present their ideas and the positive experience of working together as a team to make somebody else happy obviously remain with a young person for a long time; for some YAR participants, their community service is literally a life-changing experience.
Thank you, Youth As Resources staff and volunteer board members, for making it possible for young people to be actively involved in making our community a better place.  Thank you to the more than 37,000 young people who have shared their time and talent to make our community a better place.  You are all are youth champions!
John Brandon

I recently read the article, “Have Sexual Abuse and Physical Abuse Declined Since the 1990’s?” by David Finkelhor & Lisa Jones and although a bit confusing the final conclusion after reviewing statistics, trends and indicators is that sexual abuse has indeed declined since the early 1990’s.  The authors write, “Our judgment is that the decline in sexual abuse is about as well established as crime trends can be in contemporary social science.” 

A decline means we’re headed in the right direction, but we still haven’t reached the end goal yet of preventing sexual abuse from occurring in the first place.  Consider these concerning statistics:

  • One out of every 10 (9.8%) students have been physically forced to have sex, with female students (14.5%) having this experience more than males (5.2%). (2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS).
  • There were were 3,081 cases of substantiated sexual abuse in 2011.  

MCCOY is continuing to play it’s role in protecting children from child sexual abuse by offering FREE Stewards of Children trainings in 2013.  In 2012 MCCOY trained 475 adults on how to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.  Additionally, youth serving organizations learned how to improve policies and practices to help keep kids safe while attending enrichment and extracurricular activities.  MCCOY hopes to increase the number of adults trained in 2013 as each adult trained can better protect up to 10 children.

In celebration of MCCOY’s 20th Anniversary we have identified 20 dates for organizations to host a Stewards of Children training for their staff, volunteers, board members and clients for FREE (and we come to your location).  We appreciate the great response as most of the first quarter slots are already taken.  If you’re interested in hosting a training on one of the following dates, please contact Shanna Martin.  (If 20 or more people register we’ll bring Chipotle with us!!).
• Tuesday, March 5th from noon – 3 p.m.
• Tuesday, April 2nd from 9 a.m. – noon
• Wednesday, May 22nd from 9 a.m. – noon
• Thursday, June 13th from noon – 3 p.m.
• Wednesday, July 24th from 6-9 p.m.
• Tuesday, August 6th from 9 a.m. – noon
• Saturday, August 31st from 9 a.m. – noon
• Tuesday, September 3rd from noon – 3 p.m.
• Wednesday, September 11th from 6-9 p.m.
• Saturday, September 28th from 9 a.m. – noon
• Tuesday, October 1st from 9 a.m. – noon
• Thursday, October 17th from 6-9 p.m.

Feel free to visit our website to learn more about Stewards of Children and to register for an already scheduled training. 

Work Different: From Innovation to Implementation  
at the 2013 Building Opportunities Conference  

Deadline for Speakers & Sessions- January 11th!!

The 2013 Building Opportunities conference is the largest event in North America dedicated to creating and managing nonprofit shared space and services.  Together with government, philanthropic, and industry partners, we are breaking down traditional boundaries.  “One-stop” centers are pioneering innovative service delivery to children and families.  Arts centers are stimulating creativity and supporting neighborhood economic vitality.  Shared spaces are applying green building principles in service of social justice.  And organizations are saving time and money by working together in new ways.

This biennial conference regularly attracts hundreds of philanthropists, nonprofit leaders, government officials, and real estate professionals with over 30 innovative yet applicable workshops, plenary sessions, and networking events.  Attendees walk away with comprehensive information on real estate issues, legal and governance advice, financing and marketing resources, green design ideas, and new trends in shared programs and services.

Join the conversation, June 3-5 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, CO.  Together we are working differently and harnessing the power of collaboration to create collective impact.

Click here to submit your speaker or session proposal.