- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Community leaders come together for the sake of the kids
By LAURA BUCKStaff writer
For many Calvert County leaders, their purpose on Thursday afternoon was finding purpose for children.
These advocates were at the Calvert Library Prince Frederick for the youth purpose event given by the Calvert Collaborative for Children and Youth Inc., formerly known as the Calvert Crusade for Children.
The organization’s former president, Marie Andrews, who coordinated the event, explained that the goal of the day was “to bring together all the different sectors of the community to see that everybody in Calvert County can do something positive for youth. Everybody.”
The event featured a webinar on giving young people purpose from the University of Wisconsin’s extension center for youth and then a discussion among the event’s attendees on what they can do.
In attendance included Calvert County Board of County Commissioners Susan Shaw (R) and Pat Nutter (R) as well as representatives from Calvert County Public Schools, Calvert Memorial Hospital, the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office, the Calvert County Court Appointed Special Advocate program and numerous other organizations from the community.
Andrews said she agreed with the webinar in that youth need purpose, internal control and knowledge that their actions have consequences.
“Purpose is a driving force and if it’s lacking, people just don’t have goals,” she said.
Mary Lu Gultekin, a program specialist with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Maryland, said she thinks both “time mapping” to set goals and community service give young people that sense of purpose.
“That’s what our mentors are already doing. They’re beautiful role models for the kids,” she said.
Gultekin said she noticed some of the kids with whom she worked saying that they felt they had fewer opportunities and less diversity in a rural community like Calvert.
She said Big Brothers Big Sisters mentors often took kids on day trips to Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Annapolis for this reason.
Michael Moore, former Calvert County commissioner and current member of the Concerned Black Men of Calvert County, said he thought purpose for youth started at home and included the community.
“Back in the day we were scared of our neighbors because they’d tell [our parents] everything we did ... it has to start at home,” he said, adding that the church always will be a great resource for young people.
Retired Calvert County educator Sheila Moore, Michael’s wife, said teachers need to be mentors as well as educators.
“As an educator, don’t get in the business if you can’t love every child,” Sheila said, adding that at the same time, when she taught “I set boundaries.”
“They knew I cared for them, they know I had expectations. ... I was a very no-nonsense person. Kids said ‘at home we cuss at our parents all the time,’” she said.
Of educators, Sheila Moore said, “You can’t go to school dressed like the kids and expect them to respect you ... their pants are hanging down and their [tattoos] are showing.”
Sgt. Michael Bomgardner of the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office said he thought video games and the media put pressure on young people to “grow up quicker.”
He said video games also encourage violence to women and authority figures.
“That’s a battle we can’t fight here because parents will do what they want to,” Bomgardner said.
Shaw said when she attended past Calvert Collaborative for Youth and Children events, all of the young people with whom she spoke seemed to feel valued.
Andrews said this did not necessarily represent all of Calvert’s youth.
“When you get young people to those meetings they’re the cream of the crop. ... How do we get to the young people where they go home and maybe just sit on the couch and watch TV?” Andrews asked.
The event’s attendees also filled out an “asset checklist” about the activities they did as a young person and how they saw themselves.
Nutter said he filled it out thinking back to his youth and that he knew he fell short in the area of community service as a child.
“I was a typical kid ... I didn’t think I had time to do it,” Nutter said, adding that he also wasn’t a huge reader growing up.
His strong areas, Nutter said, were making friends, being friends with people from other cultures and resisting peer pressure.
“I think this was great if you answered honestly,” Nutter said.