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CAYA Bowl-a-thon 2015

Written by: Maggie Fritzen Posted on: March 11, 2015 Blog: In the Community


A sea of blue CAYA shirts flooded Casey's Lanes on Saturday in support of a Bowl-a-thon to raise awareness and donations for Family Advocates' youth mentoring program.

Brenda Stellema, the program director for CAYA (Court Appointed Youth Advocates), said January was National Mentoring Month.

"In order to kind of raise awareness of the important of mentoring, how important mentoring to youth is, we wanted to have a program that highlights one of our communities efforts for giving support to our youth," Stellema said.

CAYA supplies volunteers to work with youths involved in the juvenile justice system, promoting intervention services and providing a positive mentor.

"It's important for people to understand that a child's life can be changed by mentoring," Stellema said. "Engaging in a program like the CAYA program will change a child's life. And that's what we hope to do is make steps to success for them where they may have never an opportunity to have that before the intervention. We're just trying to help them make better choices so they can be successful."

The community showed their support as 17 lanes were occupied by the Bowl-a-thon.

"We have a lot of community people out here that are supporting the program that we are very grateful for because without people's support the program can't achieve what we're setting out to achieve," Stellema said.

Members of the Department of Child Services, the Swanson Center and Keys Counseling were in attendance as well, all sharing the same goal of helping youths in need.

"We have a well-rounded group of people from every aspect of what happens in the process for juveniles," Stellema said. "They're all here in one place doing a great thing."

The event helped raise money toward a scholarship program thats funds would go toward a stipend that assists the needs that come from the youths involved in the program.

Stellema said the stipend is applied for like a scholarship, teaching youths the process of applying for scholarships, and that it can be used for various things like helping them purchase items for school or allowing them to join sports programs or other enrichment programs.

"In return for receiving that stipend, what we like to do is for them to give back to the community," Stellema said. "We're trying to steer them in a way that helps them understand that they're responsible for their community."

A 50/50 raffle and door prizes also were given for those in attendance thanks to the donations from many sponsors. With so much support from the community, Stellema was optimistic of CAYA's continued presence in the efforts to assist youths.

By MATT CHRISTY For The News-Dispatch |

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