Cheering our Local Youth
Being involved with Prom Plus (not to mention having four sons of my own), I have the opportunity to interact with our local teens and young adults. I have heard sad tales of kids whose parents are addicted to one thing or another, who have kicked their kid out of their house just because they turned 18 or who just lack parenting skills. Of course, there are also the “friend” parents who are insecure in their parenting abilities or choose to ignore their parental responsibilities and instead opt to be the “cool” parent. These are the ones who buy booze for their kids or even get high with their children. Yes, seriously. Prom and graduation season unfortunately find increases in this poor behavior.
Then there are the kids who have incredible parents – attentive, caring and loving – yet the kids are driven to use drugs and alcohol.
However, there are also awesome parents and kids. Typical during graduation season is the distribution of scholarship money, which presents an opportunity to catch up with both.
As most of you know, we live in one generous community with several phenomenal organizations that are eager to financially help graduating students with the expenses of college. I sit on one board that reviews more than a dozen applications for scholarships each year. To read about these students and what many have overcome as they approach a college education is truly remarkable and inspiring.
This year, for the first time, Prom Plus was able to set aside funds for four deserving Prom Plus Club members who are preparing to go to college. The Lions Club, under the guidance of president Art Rinaman, invited Prom Plus to distribute our scholarships at the same luncheon they were holding for their recipients. Mary O’Keefe was in charge of presenting the scholarships and, because she has worked so closely over the years with the recipients, it was an emotional event.
Mary had something personal and touching to share about each graduate, focusing on the growth of each individual over the years. To hear her speak about the character of each recipient was moving. Fortunately, I too knew about the background of each of the recipients and how they contributed to the community. The graduates are each unique, whether in their sense of humor, their leadership abilities or their passion.
The luncheon was attended by most of the parents as well as the students. It was wonderful to share with the parents how their child is looked upon by the community and, in some small way, how Prom Plus and Prom Plus Club helped shape them into the adults that they are becoming.
Not surprisingly, it was more than a few tears that were shed – tears of joy and pride in these remarkable young people – at the luncheon.
I invite you to turn to our Youth section beginning on page 10 to learn about the organizations that also had to choose from some amazing graduates for their own scholarship distribution. The only unfortunate thing is that there isn’t enough room in this entire newspaper to share with you all the hard work and commitment of each student.