COME ONE, COME ALL
MECOSTA COUNTY YOUTH AND FAMILY CENTER PROVIDES SERVICES FOR STUDENTS, FAMILIES
By Kyle LeppekPioneer Staff Writer MECOSTA — For many, retirement is a time toelax after years of hard work. For Jim and Bonniehaw, their retirement closely resembles their former rofessional life. As retired teachers — each with more than 30ears of experience at all ages levels — the Shawsead an after-school program at the Mecosta Countyouth and Family Center in Mecosta. Although therogram existed for 15 years at numerous locations,t wasn’t until 2000 when the couple purchased theurrent Mecosta property and built their own center hat ﬁnally opened in October 2009.Monday through Thursday, the center holds anfter-school program that runs roughly two hours.ondays and Wednesdays are designated for econd- through fourth-graders, while Tuesdays andhursdays see ﬁfth- through eighth-graders. Fromheir teaching experience, the Shaws know to keephe program structured and educational as well asntertaining, Jim said.“Parents seems to enjoy having their kids here,”im said. “(Parents) know its constructive, its not just,Here, go and enjoy yourself for two hours and theno home.’”The ﬁrst 20 to 30 minutes of the program is spentorking on homework or reading. A lesson — usuallyn bullying, peer pressure or anti-drug use — artsnd crafts and time to play in the gym rounds out theest of the time at the center.If children are already involved with an after-schoolrogram, the Shaws make their priorites clear; schoollways comes ﬁrst. For children who aren’t involvedn after-school activities, the Shaws want them totilize the center.“I was one of those kids that had nothing to do; Iidn’t have anything. My parents weren’t well off ande went without a lot,” Jim said. “I said, ‘My kids willever do that,’ and then I said, ‘If I can do somethingabout it, then other families will be involved.’ There isa need out there for us to get those kids in here.”Everything at the center is done in teams to helpteach the children how to work with others and theatmosphere is always positive. The Shaws don’tallow bullying or swearing. If a child is reprimandedand asked to leave the center, it is only for a week; theShaws will never ban a child forever. It is importantto distinguish being upset with a child’s behavior, notwith the child, Jim said.Having taught for most of their lives, Jim and Bonnieknow the limitations schools face while making surestudents meet academic standards. At the center,the Shaws can listen to the children and focus oncommunity service and life skills that schools may nothave time for.“I used to have all these goals of what I wanted (thechildren) to know. Now I think if respect and a workethic is all that I taught them, that will be enough,”Bonnie said.One thing that will never change, the Shaws said, isthe after-school program. That center will always setthat time aside. Other than that, though, the couplewould like to see the building used more. They arealways willing to open it if prior arrangements aremade. In the past, the center has hosted schoolfundraisers. They would like to see children and their
families take more ownership in the building.“Our goals and dreams for this center was for it tobe a true community center where every one in theommunity has a place here and can do some of thehings they would like to do,” Bonnie said.For now, though, the center helps children stayroductive and ﬁnd constructive things to do. Onetudent said, “I actually came here today to stay outf trouble and off the streets,” Jim said.Currently, the center’s largest need is volunteers.s of now, the Shaws run the center largely bythemselves. They make several trips transportingchildren to the center themselves. Volunteers don’tneed a set schedule, just helping out when someonecan would make a difference. Even donating snacksor another service helps, they said.“I would like to see the building self-sufﬁcient. Wecould turn it over to somebody that can run it and wewould stay on the board and make sure it is runningproperly,” Jim said. “But in the next four to ﬁve years,I would like to walk away and say, ‘Now the buildingis running; it will continue to run.’ But you can’t walkaway when it is not functioning by itself.” Although running the center by themselves can bedifﬁcult, the Shaws wouldn’t do it if they didn’t enjoyit.“You know the feeling when you do something for kids, you see the smile on their face and you knowyou did the right thing?” Jim asked. “I just wishedmore people would get involved and see that. They’dhang on to it.”Besides the after school program and varioussports equipment and activities, the center recentlyreceived 10 computers. The computers can be usedto help residents practice for their GED or for publicuse similar to a library. The computers will be readyby the new year.Currently, most of the children that attend the center are from the Mecosta area but the Shaws want to getmore children involved. They are willing to work withparents to sort out transportation issues.For more information, to volunteer, to use thefacilities or to enroll your child in an after schoolprogram, contact the Shaws at (231) 972-4594.The center is located at 587 S. Washington St. inMecosta
PATIENTS HELPING PATIENTS WITHKIDNEY DISEASE
(NewsUSA) - According to the Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention, approximately one out of every six adults in the United States is living withchronic kidney disease (CKD). If you are battling thisdisease or caring for someone who has it, help andsupport are just a phone call away. The Renal SupportNetwork (RSN) offers a unique program called theRSN HOPEline, a patient-run, toll-free telephoneservice that specializes in patient-to-patient supportfor people diagnosed with CKD and those who carefor them.Callers gain valuable insights from speaking tosomeone who understands -- a knowledgeablepatient who has learned to live successfully withthe illness. RSN HOPEline operators share their experiences and impart strength and hope. RSN isa nonproﬁt, patient-focused, patient-run organizationthat provides non-medical services to those affectedby CKD.For more information, visit RSNhope.org or callRSN HOPEline at 1-800-579-1970 (English) or
DOES YOUR COMPUTER NEED AHELPING HAND?
(NewsUSA) - As technology advances, moreof our lives take place on our computers. Workpresentations, legal documents, personal recordsand treasured family photos are all created andstored on our computers. Unfortunately, computer viruses eventually make their way through ﬁrewalls,or other breakdowns occur -- and you want them ﬁxednow. But not everyone has time to drop everythingand haul their computer to the local computer repair shop! On-site computer repair is making it easier for people with busy schedules to handle tediouscomputer maintenance and repairs. Geeks on Callis a convenient on-site computer service and repair company that sends certiﬁed technicians straight toyour home or business. Geeks on Call realizes thatyour computer is an important asset in your life, whichis why its motto is “Don’t trust your computer to justanyone.” The business has been a trusted nationalbrand in the IT industry for over a decade. All on-siteand remote technicians have been screened andbackground checked for your safety. Not only doesGeeks on Call help protect your computer againsviruses, it’s also available to help manage businessIT systems. Technology is always expanding, whichis why Geeks on Call continues to grow. Althoughviruses’ and other complications arise, Geeks on Callknows that you can’t afford to waste time sendingaway your computer. Geeks on Call technicianscome straight to your home or business and geyour system up and running quickly. Don’t trust youprecious information to just anyone. To ﬁnd out howaccessible Geeks on Call is, visit www.geeksoncall.com. You can also follow it on Twitter @geeksoncallfor updates that go straight to your phone.
INTERNET SAFETY 101: HOW TOPROTECT YOUR KIDS ONLINE
(NewsUSA) - It is no mystery that technologallows kids to gain 24-hour access to the media, bua recent study by the Kaiser Foundation discoveredthe average kid spends 7.5 hours a day usingentertainment media. Through using multiple mediaat one time such as music, TV, movies, the Internet,video games and texting, kids can actually pack atotal of 10 hours and 45 minutes. Although these ways of socializing andcommunicating can be enriching, they do comewith certain risks. Kids can become victims of onlinebullies, predators, hackers and scammers.“The Internet has great potential for kids in terms oknowledge and resources, but we take seriously the job of teaching our youth how to navigate it safely andproperly,” said Dan Rauzi, senior director, technologprograms at Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA).BGCA has partnered with Sprint to address theseissues and help better prepare young people tonavigate their world -- both real and virtual. Sprint’sonline resource, www.4NetSafety.com, offers freetools from experts that address the dangers thayoung people commonly encounter online andencourages positive dialogue about Internet safety. Inaddition, www.myclubmylife.com -- BGCA’s websitefor teens -- includes a special Media Safety sectionthat has more information and teen-friendly resourcesto further promote Internet safety.It’s important that your child be aware that thefundamentals -- what we say, how we say it, andwhy we say it -- are the same online and off. Hereare some tips for discussing Internet safety with youfamily:Create an honest, open environment. Kids look totheir parents to help guide them. You may not haveall the answers, and being honest about that can goa long way.Initiate conversations. Even if your kids arecomfortable approaching you, don’t wait for them tostart the conversation. Use everyday opportunities totalk to your kids about being online.Communicate your values. Be upfront about youvalues and how they apply in an online context.Communicating your values clearly can help youkids make smarter and more thoughtful decisionswhen they face tricky situations.Be patient. Most kids need to hear informationrepeated, in small doses, for it to sink in. If you keeptalking with your kids, your patience and persistencewill pay off in the long run.For more information, visit www.4NetSafety.com.
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