ALMONT — The continued success of Almont's "Youth On Main Street" (YOMS) group is contingent on sustaining membership into each new year.
Founded several years ago, the youth-driven community service organization is comprised of Almont High School students in grades 10-12.
Through a collaboration with the Almont Downtown Development Authority (DDA), the young volunteers annually coordinate projects to benefit the community.
Those projects can include the successful "spring" and "fall" cleanup efforts downtown, along with participation in various other community events for residents of all ages.
Almont Youth on Main Street (YOMS) members get into the holiday spirit during last weekend's Holly Day Light Parade activities downtown. photo by Tom Wearing.
Last Saturday, Dec. 3, YOMS members were stationed at the Almont Historical Museum, where they helped youngsters make Christmas cookies and simple ornaments for their trees at home.
The group is now switching its focus to planning the 2017 "Polar Palooza," a winter festival to take place Saturday, Jan. 28 from noon-3 p.m. at Almont Community Park.
Almont DDA Director Kim Schall says YOMS members usually meet once a month after school; but more frequently prior to major events such as the Polar Palooza.
Schall says not only do YOMS members experience the personal rewards of giving back to the community, participation in the organization meets Almont High School students' public service mandate.
"By participating in the YOMS program, students can earn community service hours," says Schall. "As long as they put in at least two hours at a specific event, it counts for their community service requirements."
Additionally, the organization annually awards a Almont Pride Community Service Award and Scholarship to a deserving high school senior.
New recruits sought
Because there are currently only nine active YOMS members, Schall hopes more interested student volunteers will step up soon.
She says members serve as student ambassadors, while modeling community pride by donating their time and energy to their hometown.
High school senior Madeleine "Maddy" Gray says membership in YOMS has yielded unexpected rewards.
"I became a member in my sophomore year when (former DDA Director) Nancy Boxey came to a student council meeting and talked to us about the value of community involvement," Maddy recalls. "A group of my friends and I went to the first meeting and we signed up. We love it.
"I enjoy the feeling of helping people and my community," she says. "I especially like making the little kids happy. That makes it worth all the time we put into it."
Any Almont High School students interested in becoming a part of the Youth On Main Street team, should talk to a current member; or contact Kim Schall at the Almont DDA office at 810-798-8125.
Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.