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YSB nets $57,000

April 08, 2009
With all the recent talk of earmarks and "pork" projects connected to the stimulus money President Barack Obama is promoting, not all of the earmarks or pork projects are bad. In fact, many of the earmarks supply needed funding and a lifeline for programs that serve the poor, the elderly and the youth of local communities where funds are in short supply.

The Youth Service Bureau of Crawford County is one of the first local agencies to benefit from the stimulus money. With help from Indiana Ninth District Congressman Baron Hill's office, the YSB recently requested money to continue its successful suspension/expulsion program in Crawford County, a project that works with the Crawford County Community School Corp. to keep students in a classroom and a learning environment, while they are suspended or expelled from school.

The center has been notified that it will receive $57,000 in stimulus funds.

"We can now make plans for the program to continue another year," YSB Director Allison Millar said. "We have had about 200 kids in this program and, without the funding, there would be no program. The kids would be sent home if they are expelled or suspended, just to sit and watch television."

The suspension/expulsion program at YSB requires students to keep up school work and not fall behind.

"These kids are still students of Crawford County schools and they still attend school, but they come here," Fran Wheeler, assistant director at the YSB, said. "Coming here is an alternative that allows them to stay on an academic path. They can still graduate with their class, if they keep up school work here."

The YSB has long been an anchor for Crawford County students who are experiencing difficulties in regular school, have behavior challenges or have been involved with drugs and are expelled.

"What we're doing is a good thing," Millar said. "I see our former students at (Indiana University South-east), where my daughter goes to college. You have to look at the bigger picture and see their potential. These kids need someone to recognize that. I don't know what would have become of some of these kids had we not been here and seen their potential."

"This is not where bad kids go," Wheeler agreed. "Some have made bad decisions, but they are not bad kids. Students from here, more and more, are showing up for college."

YSB also works with students on drug abuse, domestic difficulties and tries to help those who are without a family support system. The center also has weekend activities for students and encourages them to participate in the community to raise money, not for the YSB but for other good causes.

The students are now organizing an event called "Bandfest" that will take place May 16 at the Crawford County 4-H Community Park south of Marengo. The all-day event will feature local bands and will offer, besides music, food and drinks, a dunking booth and other attractions. Bands of all types are encouraged to contact the YSB and volunteer to perform. The proceeds from the event will go to PAWS, a local cause that works toward better treatment of dogs and other pets.

For more information or to volunteer, call 365-3165.

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Barbara Shaw
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