Pictured are Kosciusko Youth Leadership Academy students assisting with sorting, folding and organization of donated clothing. Photo provided
Pictured are Kosciusko Youth Leadership Academy students assisting with sorting, folding and organization of donated clothing. Photo provided
Kosciusko Youth Leadership Academy recently welcomed students to learn more about social services offered throughout the county during an event held at Combined Community Services in Warsaw.

Randy Polston, executive director of CCS, welcomed students and provided an introduction on the mission of CCS. Polston also provided information on his own personal background and journey to his current position.

Alyssa Lowe, CCS director of development, provided students with information on the resources available through CCS, which also offers a two-tiered approach to service – emergency and self-sufficiency programs. Lowe outlined many of the programs the organization provides that give back to the community including Glass Slipper, Tools for School and Adopt-a-Family.

Eric Lane, director of Fellowship Missions, a local shelter which provides housing and support to men, women and children in need, spoke to the students. Lane explained the shelter offers two major programs: one for emergency services and needs and a second for those needing a two-week stay including basic provisions such as food, clothing and shelter.

According to Lane, the two-week stay is followed by a program which assists in teaching self-reliance. This program offers clients one-on-one meetings to help develop and focus on education, addiction issues (if needed), employment and their spiritual journey. All residents also learn basic life skills through chores at the shelter including cleaning and cooking.

KYLA students also learned about the Beaman Home, Warsaw’s domestic violence shelter, from Jennifer Hayes. Hayes enlightened the students about the number of individuals served annually by the Beaman Home and how the definition of domestic abuse has expanded from physical abuse to include financial, verbal and mental abuse.

Darren Bickel, president of United Way of Kosciusko County, discussed the importance of reading to children prior to attending kindergarten.

Bickel introduced the students to Imagination Library, a program founded by Dolly Parton. Children can begin to receive a book on a monthly basis, beginning as young as 3 months of age until the time the child enters kindergarten. The United Way of Kosciusko County is partnering with local hospitals to enroll infants in the program at birth.

Following these presentations, Lacey Alber, from CCS, gave a tour of the facility and students were split into groups and worked together to complete a community service project for CCS. Projects included the sorting of donated clothing, organization of the food pantry, and cleaning of meeting spaces for clients.

For more information on KYLA or to learn how to get involved, visit the KYLA website at www.kosciuskoyouthleadership.org or on Facebook at @kosciuskoyouthleadership.