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Largest-ever Taylorsville City Youth Council assisting families

Dec 01, 2017 08:00AM ● Published by Carl Fauver

New Taylorsville Youth Council members and their families packed a recent city council meeting. (Carl Fauver/City Journals)

Gallery: Youth Council [3 Images] Click any image to expand.

Taylorsville City has assembled its largest Youth Council ever, and by mid-November, the group was hard at work assisting a local family with its Thanksgiving feast. Soon, they’ll be brightening the same underprivileged family’s Christmas as well. 

“We normally have 20 Youth Council members,” said city council coordinator and Youth Council Adviser Kristy Heineman. “But this year we had 21 applicants and didn’t want to tell just one person they couldn’t join. So we’re bigger than ever, instead.”

The two youngest of the group are a pair of Eisenhower Junior High ninth-graders, Madeline VanWagenen and Paige Smith.

“I’m a ninth-grade representative at school, and some council members came to one of our meetings at the start of the school year to tell us about it,” VanWagenen said. “It sounded like a great opportunity to get to know the community and to help people, so I applied.”

Another pair of council members attend Murray High School, although they live in Taylorsville (a youth council requirement). One of them, David Stump, is also one of only four boys on the council. The other, Bryn Gale, is the group’s mayor and one of three youth ambassadors, a subset of the council that participates in even more activities, including new business ribbon-cutting ceremonies.

“This is my second year on the council and first as an ambassador (only high school seniors are eligible),” Gale said. “I really enjoy being active in the community. And I thought the service project would be very interesting.”

Each of the three ambassadors is required to conceive and execute his or her own service project, involving the assistance of other council members. Bryn plans to capture part of Taylorsville’s living history.

“For my project, I plan to record interviews with people at the Taylorsville Senior Center,” Gale said. “Then, with the help of other council members, we’ll edit the interviews together into a 30- or 60-minute video. I want to talk with them about their own families and about the history of the city and this area. Then we’ll provide copies of the videos to all of the families and keep one available to the public at City Hall.”

The other youth ambassadors who will tackle their own service projects are Angelique Canepari — who’s also in her second year on the council — and Megan Squire, who is a third-year council member.

“I like all the service projects we do, and I’m looking forward to the ribbon-cutting events also,” Angelique said.

Megan added, “Besides all the fun things we do, this is a great opportunity to change lives. I especially enjoy helping a family with Thanksgiving and Christmas.” 

One of the first activities youth council members undertake after they are selected in the fall is their Thanksgiving and Christmas program.

“Our Thanksgiving meal budget is $125,” Heineman said. “Then when the council Christmas shops for the same family, they spend $75 to $100 on each member, including the parents.”

The needy family selected to receive holiday assistance is chosen from nominees submitted by or to the council.

The Taylorsville Youth Council is an officially recognized service group, set forth in city statute. It operates with an annual budget of $8,000 to $9,000.

“By the time we buy shirts for all the members and participate in other events, that budget doesn’t cover everything,” Heineman said. “Council members normally conduct a couple of fundraising events. And sometimes they have to donate some of their own money so we can get everything done.”

Once the holidays are over, Taylorsville Youth Council members participate in a day at the state legislature, a leadership conference at Utah State University and other activities. 

“Year after year, the kids tell me what they enjoy most is serving the community, learning how government operates and building friendships,” Heineman said. “I love working with these kids because they are the cream of the crop.”

Any Taylorsville teens who will be in ninth through 12th grade in the 2018–19 school year can apply to be a member of next year’s group. To learn more about it, contact a current Youth Council member or Heineman at Taylorsville City Hall.

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