Group that targets youths seeks $77,000 from Carroll

October 03, 2002|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

The Alliance, a coalition of organizations established to strengthen Carroll's families, has set up youth boards across the county and has doubled its membership in two years, the group's leaders said yesterday while asking the county commissioners for money to continue their efforts.

Board members requested $77,000 in county money for next year, saying it would pay the salaries of two full-time employees who serve the volunteer organization and would provide the Alliance with the $3,500 it needs to secure a $20,000 state grant. Volunteers also are exploring several fund-raising options.

The commissioners, who in past years have provided the Alliance with $100,000 -- $50,000 each year since the group's founding in March 2000 -- made no financial commitment, but all three complimented the organization on the strides it has made. Commissioner Donald I. Dell said he has long been interested in what the county can offer its youths, and he praised the group for its outreach and mentoring programs.

When they took office in 1998, the commissioners drafted goals for their four-year term, calling for a "focus on youth and families" to "reduce the risk of crime and substance abuse." The Alliance grew from those goals. It started with 23 members and has grown to 58, including business, church and service groups.

"We have gone after and promoted good things, not duplicating what is already here," said Art Riley, director of pharmacy for Episcopal Ministries to the Aging and one of nine Alliance board members. "We are here to act as a catalyst."

Organizers have held activities from music festivals to block parties honoring youths who are contributing to their communities. In April, the Alliance recognized youths from every town in Carroll.

"We are showing what a valuable asset our youth are," said the Rev. Chris Guyer, a board member. "Our real goal is to link adults and youth."

The Alliance also launched Celebrate Youth Year in April, a 14-month observance that will end June 7 in a Youth Expo at the Carroll Farm Museum.

The Alliance has established youth boards that involve about 130 teen-agers in Westminster, Sykesville and Taneytown, and it is working to get similar groups off the ground in the county's other five towns. Students must donate 75 hours to community service as part of their graduation requirement. The boards can direct youths to service opportunities.

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