Kosciusko Youth Leadership Academy met Feb. 5 at the Bowen Center, where students learned about social services in the county.
KYLA moderator Tony Ciriello opened the meeting by introducing Tim Nussbaum of the Bowen Center. Nussbaum used an interactive approach to speaking to the students regarding stress and mental illness. He discussed the history of the Bowen Center and the wide variety of programs offered, which include home based service, employee and student assistance programs, inpatient units and more.
United Way Executive Director Patricia Coy presented the impact her organization has in Kosciusko County and some background on fundraising efforts. She discussed the three basic focus areas: education, income and health.
United Way is in partnership with Kindergarten Countdown, VITA, 211, Kids Smile Kosciusko, Serenity House and Baker Youth Club to increase the success of these programs. She also discussed the annual Day of Caring event and how students could participate.
Cardinal Services community relations manager Michelle Boxell discussed the multitude of services Cardinal offers for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Opportunities include Head Start, WIC, sheltered work options, supported living, group homes, day services, respite care and KABS. The service was founded in 1954 by families in need. Today, they serve over 4,000 individuals a year and employ close to 500 people.
Eric Lane of Fellowship Missions discussed the homeless issue in Kosciusko County. Fellowship has two homes, one used as a men’s shelter and the other for women, but they are building a mutual location near the YMCA. In 2012, they provided shelter for 208 guests and in 2013 over 170. They also provide an average of 20,000 meals per year and partner with local organizations such as United Way, Bowen Center, Grace College, YMCA and Baker Youth Club.
The last speaker was Amanda Herendeen of Child Protective Services. She talked about signs of abuse, suspicious areas for injuries and neglect, which includes failure to meet basic needs such as food, clothing, health care, shelter and education. Herendeen mentioned ways for people to help including foster parenting, CASA and mentoring organizations such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters. She concluded with the CPS mission, to protect and keep children safe while keeping families together.
Cindy Klusman closed by announcing the next meeting will be held March 5 at the courthouse. For more information about KYLA, visit www.kylaleadership.org.