Ferndale Youth Assistance Recognizes Students, Delivers on Promises
(Elizabeth Schanz, June 1, 2022)
Ferndale, MI – After a two year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ferndale Youth Assistance was able to hold their 42nd Annual Jack and Annette Aronson Youth Recognition Ceremony. However, in order to accommodate for COVID-19 safety precautions, the ceremony took place in a new way, where the three youth recipients were hand-delivered awards to their homes and partake in a celebration with custom yard signs, gifts, and personal congratulations.
Youth Recognition Ceremony is just one of the many events that the Ferndale Youth Assistance puts on as a way to help recognize children within the City of Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge and Royal Oak Township. To receive this award, individuals or groups who are in Kindergarten to 12th grade may be nominated for their volunteer services in the face of adversity.
The Ferndale Youth Assistance is a non-profit prevention program that was founded in 1960. Since then, the organization has worked towards their mission to strengthen families and reduce and prevent child abuse, neglect, and delinquency though community involvement. Michelle Buckman, the Co-Chair of the Youth Recognition Ceremony and a probation officer in Ferndale said that this award works to achieve the organization’s goal.
“There’s always a place to recognize those kids that are excelling in academics or in sports, but one the greatest things about the youth recognition night are not usually these kids who are at Youth Recognition night,” said Baker, “These are the kids [at the Youth Recognition Night] that are faced with a roadblock and they found their way around it. They are doing it with grace and are still helping one another.”
This year’s recipients were Jazlyn Coles, Makayla Johnson, and Maggie Strockis. These individuals were nominated from various sources and were from University High School, Ferndale High School, and the lower elementary. These students were recognized as contributing to their community such as heading student organizations, volunteering for those in need, helping with mental health efforts, and maintaining a positive attitude even in times of hardship.
Ferndale Youth Assistance caseworker Tasha Hanson expressed the impact that these individuals have made on their community even in the face of adversity, and how these individuals represent the future for this community.
Hanson said, “It makes you think that the world is going to be okay. Even through all this craziness that we’re going through these kids are going to come out and make it a better place.”
The Ferndale Youth Assitance programs actively work to provide casework services and a multitude of programs to help local families. The casework provides short term services for individuals and families in need. Through this effort they will help individuals with navigating different challenges such as anxiety or anger management. Additionally, for more long term issues such as unemployment the casework office will connect individuals to allow them to get them the resources they need. Even through the pandemic, FYA found ways to deliver on their promise of supporting youth, with Zoom being the main connector, and even reaching out by phone. And now as the world recovers, so do chances for kids and families to interact.
Community programs are run by volunteers who meet on the board of directors to come up with resources and what the families need. Hanson explained the organization could not run without funding through a tri-sponsorship as well as philanthropic efforts such as those of Jack Aronson, whom the Youth Recognition Ceremony is named in memory of. Aronson passed away in August, and the awards help carry his name forward.
“We receive funding from the Oakland County Circuit Court Family division and we also receive funding and resources from Ferndale Public Schools. They’re a huge contributor for us,” explained Hanson, “They provide not only money but in kind needs of office space, internet, copy machine and paper which always adds up. And local municipalities such as the city of Ferndale and City of Pleasant Ridge.”
This funding allows for the youth assistance to put on primary programs such as various scholarships from summer camp programs to student enrichment funding to get students to achieve their goals. These programs help kids be able to partake in opportunities they may not be able to typically do without this assistance.
Tasha, “Some kids in Ferndale have never even been outside Ferndale. So to be able to go into the woods and make a campfire, or make s’mores, or fish, or kayak, that’s something that can be eye opening to them.”
Additional programs are geared to entire families through the Family Education Committee. This team assesses the needs of the community and provides free programing for parents and families to help them navigate through their lives. Similarly during the holidays, the organization puts on “Adopt a Family” and volunteers are able to help purchase toys and other goods for a family in need.
To carry on the mission of the Ferndale Youth Assistance, the organization is continually looking for volunteers. Buckman emphasized that the programs have a real impact that “put smiles on faces” and are rewarding for all individuals involved.
Buckman said, “We are always looking for people, bright ideas, people that are willing to help out, people that want to be part of an organization where you can actually see the tangible evidence of what you’re volunteering for.”
Learn more about Ferndale Youth Assistance, including how to volunteer or donate, visit http://ferndaleya.org/