The mission to positively impact the lives of Rogers County youth has once again further evolved at Volunteers for Youth. Recent years have brought new programs including the U-Turn Academy and e-PAL to the existing PAL Mentoring Program, StepUp Program, and BLAST After School Program. With the addition of the Healthy Living Program (HLP), staff members have changed roles and new staff members have been added. “Through our new Healthy Living Program we are working to create and support an environment where the healthy choice is the easy choice for all Rogers County residents,” said Alyson Short, HLP Lead Project Director. “Our organization continues to focus on youth and their development, but creating a healthy environment will only strengthen our other efforts,” Short added.
Short previously served as the Drug Free Communities Project Director at Volunteers for Youth and is replaced in that role by Dawn Holland. Also new to the Volunteers for Youth family is Caitlin Turpel, who will work closely with Holland as the STOP Act Project Director, focusing her efforts on underage drinking prevention. Turpel replaces Amy Graham, who now leads a Partnership for Success initiative at Volunteers for Youth in cooperation with Cherokee Nation. Turpel will also take the lead on another collaborative effort with Cherokee Nation called Partners in Community Health (PICH).
“Many of the PICH initiatives align perfectly with the Healthy Living Program goals to prevent and reduce tobacco use and obesity through passage of 24/7 Tobacco Free policies, growth of farmers markets, farm-to-school projects, and worksite nutrition and physical activity policies,” said Turpel. “I will work closely with two other new members of the Volunteers for Youth staff, Jody Reiss and Amber Brassfield, to assist cities, businesses, schools and community organizations as they create a culture of wellness,” Turpel added.
Another significant change occurred within Volunteers for Youth when Mendy Stone elected to take a part-time position with the Healthy Living Program and Chris Butler replaced her as Executive Director September 1st.
“I love my new part-time role within this organization that I have had the privilege to lead for the past 17 1/2 years. Moving into the Healthy Living Program at Volunteers for Youth as the Community Liaison is something I feel is ideal for me since I am personally interested in physical activity, nutrition and overall wellness. The relationships I have built with community partners over the years will be vital in my new role as I work with the Healthy Living Program team to make Rogers County a healthier environment where we all live, work, learn and play. I am eager to step aside and see the organization grow beyond me under the leadership of Chris,” said Stone.
“The recent growth at Volunteers for Youth will solidify our position as a local organization truly dedicated to the success of young people and overall wellness across Rogers County. We have increased our capacity to serve youth in every corner of our county. I am so fortunate to lead a dedicated staff that ensures the delivery of high quality programming and the ability to create change,” said Butler.
Volunteers for Youth is a local organization supported in part by Rogers County United Way.