Taylorsville Youth Council revamping holiday community service to focus on seniors
Nov 27, 2018 03:26PM
● By Carl Fauver
There was a little time for horseplay when members of the Taylorsville Youth Council assisted in clearing brush and cleaning up along the Jordan River at the Little Confluence near 4800 South. (Kris Heineman/Taylorsville City)
By Carl Fauver | firstname.lastname@example.org
A year ago, when Taylorsville Mayor Kristie Overson relinquished her city council seat to assume her new post, the one duty she refused to give up was her role as the city’s youth council mentor.
“They keep me young, and I love helping and watching them develop into leaders,” Overson said at the time.
The new group of 19 Taylorsville Youth Council members (14 girls, five boys) has hit the ground running — since their selection in September — under Overson and the group’s adviser, city council coordinator Kris Heineman.
“We have a good group (of student council members) this year; 10 of the 19 are returners from last year,” Heineman said. “And they quickly set the tone that they want to be active in serving the community. For one thing, they have decided to revamp what we have traditionally done at Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
In her five previous years as the youth council adviser, Heineman said the group has always done “Sub-for-Santa,” where a single family is selected to receive a Thanksgiving meal followed a month later with Christmas gifts.
“But last year the group said they wanted to do something different — something that served more people and gave them more of a feeling of giving,” Heineman added. “The students decided just shopping for people wasn’t fulfilling enough. They thought they could do more.”
And there is no one happier about this year’s course change than Taylorsville Golden Living Center (2011 West 4700 South) Activities Director Taunia Southworth.
“In my seven years here at the center, I have never had a group come forward to offer to do as much for our residents as (the Taylorsville Youth Council) has pledged to do,” Southworth said. “We currently have 86 residents, and I think their plans will touch just about all of them.”
Southworth spoke with Heineman, who explained the students first wanted to visit the center over Thanksgiving weekend to read stories, play bingo and chat with seniors. Then their plans for Christmas are a bit more extravagant.
“The youth council wants to gather donated items like mittens, hats and scarves — as well as candy — for the seniors, and then do a ‘secret Santa’ activity at the center,” Heineman said. “Students also plan to spend more time with the residents talking and playing games. I think this builds a sense of community for them. It teaches the next generation how to better appreciate those who did things for the community before them.”
Taylorsville Student Council members have placed a donation box at city hall to accept donated clothing or candy.
“This definitely makes me feel good the students want to do this,” Southworth said. “I feel like our seniors have lived their lives; they’ve done hard jobs, and they have worked to improve their communities. It seems appropriate to me these young people learn about what they have done and share a sense of gratitude. So, I think it’s a wonderful idea.”
Before the holiday season arrived, several Taylorsville Youth Council members also volunteered time helping to clean up at the Little Confluence picnic area and trailhead (4800 South along the Jordan River). With Overson on hand to assist, the youth dug holes to plant 60 small trees, while also pulling weeds and clearing dead brush and overgrowth.
“This was the first time the youth council volunteered at the Little Confluence,” Heineman said. “But after they discovered all that needs to be done there, they are now considering making it an annual activity.”
One of the 19 Taylorsville Student Council members has taken on more than the rest, by also volunteering to serve as a Student Ambassador. And while there have normally been three or four students filling that role, this year Taylorsville High School Senior Lucas Carpenter is the only one who will be present at ribbon cuttings and fulfilling other ambassador duties.
“This is my third year on the student council,” Carpenter said. “I was council recorder last year and am pleased to be the mayor and a student ambassador this year. I think (student council) is an awesome opportunity to learn how government works. I have also loved the job shadowing opportunities I have had.”
In addition to serving on the council, Carpenter is also a cross country and track runner, plays first trombone in the school play and has applied to be the Taylorsville High School Sterling Scholar representative in seven different scholastic categories.
Just the kind of student Overson and Heineman have come to expect.