As many supporters of the Carmel Youth Assistance Program (CYAP) know, the fourth annual Carmel: Design Bright Futures Gala was scheduled to take place on Saturday April 25 at the Ritz Charles. Due to the COVID-19 security protocols in place, the gala was canceled by its organizers.
Although the fundraiser has been canceled, fundraising efforts to support CYAP’s programs continue. And as the needs of Carmel’s at-risk youth and their families continue to increase in these trying times, so do the efforts of CYAP staff and volunteers to meet those needs.
But CYAP cannot do it alone and without the help of the community. CYAP needs donations and volunteers to meet the immediate needs of Carmel Clay’s at-risk students throughout this time of crisis. In addition, without the funding for the gala, CYAP will have to rely on the generosity of businesses and individuals to donate money and time to ensure that its programs, such as the Carmel Summer Meals program, are fully funded this summer. .
What is the Carmel Youth Assistance Program?
CYAP was formed in the fall of 2015 to help strengthen youth and families through community participation. CYAP works in conjunction with the Carmel Clay School District, the City of Carmel and the Hamilton County Superior Court and provides critical support to children and families in Carmel in need with programs such as Carmel Summer Meals.
Educating the community about the need for CYAP is just as important in Carmel as it is anywhere else in Indiana and remains a top priority for CYAP Board Chairman, Dr. Bob Youkilis, his board members and its staff. As the city’s population grows, so does the need for CYAP services.
Currently, there are more children in need of CYAP mentors than there are mentors, so the need for available and willing people is real and urgent.
Youkilis has been an integral part of the development of CYAP’s mentoring program and has stressed the importance of reaching children in need long before they reach a point where they put themselves and / or them at risk. others and end up in the juvenile justice system.
“We probably have 12 or 13 active mentors now,” Youkilis explained. “We really need to double the number of mentors we have now and we would like to increase it to 30”. [mentors]. We have so many success stories with the matches we have, and many of them go beyond the one-year commitment originally requested. “
A call to action on behalf of at-risk youth in Carmel
CYAP continues to partner with Carmel Clay Schools as students learn from home to meet the emotional, educational and financial needs of students as much as possible.
CYAP early intervention advocate Maggie Figge explained that CYAP is working to speed up its processes, which under “normal” circumstances would take a few weeks.
“Since then [crisis] started, we really focused on just helping schools by being a good partner for them, ”Figge said. “We are standing up for schools and helping school counselors and social workers by providing them with the resources we have. We always take referrals and do admissions, obviously over the phone. We are doing all of this because I don’t think families can wait a few weeks now for resources.
CYAP mentors get creative with their mentees
“We have recommended and encouraged the mentors not to have face-to-face meetings during this time, but we have encouraged them to use FaceTime or make calls or Skype, use Google Hangouts or whatever they possibly can. do – electronically – and make sure they still hit the base every week, ”Figge explained. “We are in the process of compiling a list of ways to virtually connect with their mentees. I’ve seen Netflix promoting a party channel where you watch a show or movie with someone and then discuss it afterwards. Mentors and mentees set up virtual games to play against each other. “
A new take on book clubs, Figge mentioned that one of their mentors and mentees read a book and then discuss it on the phone once a week.
“People who want to become a mentor can still do so,” Figge said. “We can still do our whole process: background checks and orientation. We just do it [all] virtually and send them the PowerPoints, talk on the phone or join a Skype call and things like that during the process.
Please consider donating to CYAP
Carmel Clay Schools held a “food drive” on March 18 for about 600 of its food insecure students. This number is of particular concern to Figge as they have never had 600 students enrolled in the Carmel Summer Meal Program in recent years, but she predicts they will see their numbers double due to the COVID-19 crisis.
“We expect the number of students signing up for summer meals to skyrocket this summer,” Figge said. “In anticipation of layoffs and reduced working hours, the needs of our families are likely to hit them longer than most. If our numbers double from previous years, our budget will obviously double, and in the absence of what would have been collected at the gala, if we do not receive donations, food or cash, we may have to reduce the [Summer Meals] to a number and not be able to help everyone who signs up. Our intention has always been never to have to cut it, and I hope we don’t have to this summer.
For a full list of resources available to CCS students and their families, visit ccs.k12.in.us. For more information on CYAP and to donate or volunteer, please visit youthassistance.org/carmel.