ASHTABULA — The many organizations that help area people in need were highlighted on Friday during a Youth LEADERship Ashtabula County event that focused on health and human services at several locations.

Krista Williams, a junior at Edgewood, said she learned a lot about the organizations available to help the homeless or victims of abuse. 

More than 60 juniors from county high schools are part of the leadership program that meets monthly, said incoming LEADERship Executive Director Kelli Jones. She said there is a monthly theme and students work on year-long projects with some of them having a human-services component.

“Most of us are probably closer to being homeless than we realize,” said Samaritan House Executive Director Steve Sargent. He told the students that one major issue in the life of a family can result in a family being homeless.

Sargent told the students that many people in homeless shelters have jobs and are just normal people who end up without a roof over their heads.

Jones said a theme of Building Resiliency Together is the guiding theme of the program. The projects are focused in a variety of areas, including air water and soil, arts and culture and living wages, she said.

The areas of interest involve a model for a thriving community.

Jones said a school resource panel started the day off at Lakeside High School with a discussion involving Conneaut Area City Schools Superintendent Lori Riley, Dragon Empowerment Zone Executive Director Jen Bunnell and a representative of the Community Counseling Center.

The students also toured Homesafe, an organization that helps battered women, and took advantage of a yoga class at the Ashtabula County YMCA.

Williams said she has learned a lot throughout the year regarding the heritage of Ashtabula County.

“We learn how to help grow a community,” she said.

Grand Valley High School junior Madison Roskas, said she has learned a lot regarding all the opportunities that exist in the Ashtabula County.

Sargent, a graduate of LEADERship Ashtabula County, praised the program to the students.

“Nobody comes to this group and lives a normal live. You are a changed person,” he said.



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