2010 is coming to a close and The Right Path for Washington County is thankful for another wonderful year. Our community has been generous with our fundraising efforts and community service food drives, and 2011 is full of promise.
We continue to be best known for our summer dances on Marietta College campus, Friday night teen and family swim night at the Marietta Aquatic Center and our end of summer block party, but during the school year we continue to host events that engage our youth in positive activities.
A first this year is a New Year's Day dance from 8 to 11 p.m. at the Lafayette Hotel. Donna McKnight, banquet services, approached us earlier this year with the idea to hold a dance during the winter months when teens are looking for something to do. Thanks to Rosie and Lou Fourman, we are able to offer the Snowflake Ball, in memory of their son, Matthew. Mobile Jams Entertainment, our partners since we began, will play everyone's favorite music. The hotel is supplying the food, and admission is just $5 per student. You can dress up if you want, and the hotel's New Year's decorations will be left up for everyone to enjoy. Marietta High School SADD students will be our host and the event is open to area high school students.
February will find us at Washington State Community College as we gear up for our annual Band Fest from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday, Feb. 18. A showcase for young bands and music lovers, it is a great way to spend a Saturday night with your family and friends. February is also the month for our basketball skills day and Missy Hayes Memorial Pick-up Basketball Game with Marietta College women's and men's teams, respectively.
Community service projects are extremely important to our youth. Research shows that engaging youth in community service helps them feel connected to, and supported by, their communities. For the past three years our projects have centered on food drives for our many county pantries, as the need is great and ongoing. During Red Ribbon Week, the Right Path partnered with Marietta College students as part of their Make A Difference Day projects and collected food for the pantries. In addition, many of our school partners have collected items throughout the year, sharing with pantries in their respective communities. This is a great way to give back to those that give to us ... a way to pay it forward.
March 5, 2011, we are proud to announce our first annual Righditarod, like the Alaskan Iditarod, only with shopping carts. Teams of five, four dawgies and a musher, will scavenger hunt wish list items from all our food pantries, collect monetary donations and participate in several contests. Points will be tallied depending on meeting every challenge and it will stock our food pantries and muster lots of fun. Youth will be our photographers and interviewers and there is an opportunity for everyone in the community to get involved.
We have much to be thankful in our community. Sure, there are financial burdens, job shortages and other issues facing our world, but we have so many people that think outside their own problems and find a way to help others, generously, in both time and dollars. More importantly, we have a lot of great youth, future leaders, giving back to our community. We need to support them in every way we can possibly can.
The Partnership at Drugfree.org celebrates the positive influence parents have in their children's lives and encourage us to start 2011 with 10 resolutions to show our kids we care:
1. Teach them to trust you by seeing you as a role model.
2. Be patient, not just tolerant. Apologize when you make a mistake or do something you regret.
3. Ask your teen what they need from you and do whatever you can to meet the needs.
4. Listen and avoid interrupting.
5. Teach your children about ethics, values and principles they can apply in choices and decision making.
6. Help them discover the feeling of gratitude, not just to say thank you.
7. Keep the promises you make. If you do not keep your word, acknowledge that. Help your teen understand the circumstances or choices that precipitated the change in your plans.
8. Answer their questions and be consistent. When you notice behavioral changes in them, make yourself available and encourage them to talk to you about what's going on with them.
9. Be understanding when they have a difficult time and let them know you love them no matter what.
10. Be diligent. Have ongoing conversations with them about the risks of drugs and alcohol.
Let's all work together to make 2011 a year to celebrate our youth, family and community.
Cathy Harper is coordinator of The Right Path for Washington County.