Nicole Cheetham, the Director of the International Youth Health and Rights Division of the non-profit organization Advocates for Youth, has said that “a community’s members are a rich source of knowledge about their community and of energy and commitment to that community. Genuine participation by community members, including youth, is the key.”
Communities are composed of individuals of all ages that work together to help improve the place in which they live through active participation and engagement. Unfortunately, an increasing amount of disinterest is being seen in the communities of La Crescenta and La Cañada.
Events such as book-sales and carnivals are held often by various organizations with the purpose of entertaining and creating a sense of unity amongst different members of the community. Yet, very few individuals participate in such events. Despite efforts of organizations such as Parent Teacher Associations and newspapers like the Crescenta Valley Weekly, participation in community events has been minimal.
Some blame their inability to attend these events on extra-curricular activities, school work, and pure laziness. However, there is so much to learn outside of classroom studies. Community service and participation teach adolescents the value of unity and cooperation, and therefore must be encouraged.
Many types of community events take place in the region, from solar fairs to community beautification projects.
Despite all these opportunities, however, 64% percent of the 25 participants in a JSR survey conducted via Google Forms said they did not consider themselves to be active in the community.
One person wrote that “most of us are caught up with our personal problems…. we spend a lot of time working out our own issues [and so] we don’t pay attention to the things around us and we don’t make an effort in helping the community.”
Another questioned the motives behind students when it comes to community service. “Whenever people say they’re taking part in an event, [the question is whether they are] doing it with enthusiasm, or if they are doing it because they were forced to do it because of their parents or high school community service hours.”
One reason frequently cited among the many interviews conducted for this article for not volunteering is the absence of time. These responses echo the results of a 2010 Canadian study on volunteering in which 70% of interview respondents aged 15 to 19 said time was their barrier to volunteering more.
Darius Farhoumand, freshman at Crescenta Valley High School, is one of the students who cited his busy schedule for why he doesn’t volunteer more. “[With] school and . . . [other] events,” he said, “there’s not really much time for volunteering.”
Another reason cited in the Canadian study for not volunteering was that the teenagers simply didn’t know how or where to get involved, with 31% giving that as their reason. This may be another reason for such apathy for volunteering in this community. Fifty-six percent of respondents in the aforementioned JSR survey wrote that they read neither of the two most important newspapers in the community, the Crescenta Valley Weekly or Montrose Patch.
Yet, hundreds of service events to choose from may be available online in our technological world. For example, Crescenta Valley High School (CVHS) freshman Sam LeFevre turned to the Internet when he was in pursuit of more community service opportunities. Wanting to do more for La Crescenta, he began his search for volunteer events and came across the local newspapers’ websites.
“I found an opportunity to water some plants at Deukmejian Wilderness Park while searching online,” LeFevre recalled to JSR. “It may sound boring but it was actually pretty fun. It was really nice seeing the park for the first time in person.”
Regardless of what exactly is to blame for the disinterest in the community’s affairs, LeFevre’s case shows that the solution lies within the people. It is up to the youth of today to participate and be active in the community because those living in a community should work together to promote the well-being and learning of each other. Community service builds camaraderie and teamwork and fosters partnerships among schools, families, community groups, and individuals of different ethnic backgrounds.
To get people more involved, Montrose Patch and the Crescenta Valley Weekly both have sections of their papers specifically dedicated to community-wide events. The online Patch divides the events by week so that readers are able to easily find events that they may attend. Similarly, under the category “Leisure” on the CV Weekly’s site, readers are able to find articles about community events that are currently underway.
Mary O’Keefe, the senior reporter at the community’s most widely read newspaper, the Crescenta Valley Weekly, agrees with the contention that the community has grown less enthusiastic over the years she has worked at the paper. Yet, in an interview with JSR she pointed out several events that have been successful.
“Certainly, there are a multitude of available community events around La Crescenta. The events range in terms of their popularity; for example, Crescenta Valley High School has been holding the Tri-Valley Special Olympics qualification [events], and that event always attracts a lot of local volunteers and participants,” O’Keefe said during the interview.
“The Montrose Church, which has been a strong volunteer force in the community for the past three years, successfully gathered more than 175 adult volunteers and 225 student volunteers [for the Special Olympics],” she added.
She continued, “‘Taste of Montrose,’ which [was] just completed, was extremely successful. The Firehouse [a local drop-in teen center] is busy, Prom Plus and Prom Plus Club receives strong support at events. I know Mt. Avenue and Monte Vista elementary schools had busy carnivals, the school’s book fairs are popular, and the La Crescenta Library has many programs and events that get so many sign ups there is a waiting list. Home Town Country Fair also had a large turn out, bigger than last year.”
Efforts by local newspapers continue to be significant. In fact, “CV Weekly has been publishing information regarding upcoming performances by CV’s performing arts teams such as the music program each week. CV Alliance meetings and presentations are always publicized, and local events are always covered,” O’Keefe noted.
“We have also been uploading digital copies of the papers so people have direct access to information around the community on their phones,” O’Keefe answered. In addition, CV Weekly, Outlook, and the Montrose Patch can be found in local YMCAs, schools, libraries, and in front of their offices.
Participation in these annual community events exceeds expectations each year. Yet community involvement should be expanded everywhere, not just within the La Crescenta and La Cañada area. To help, the Korea Daily’s JSR section has begun publishing monthly calendars of local events for youth. It consists of events in the North Hollywood, Valencia, Glendale, and Pasadena areas that appeal to a range of audiences.
Various organizations have also allowed teens to have the opportunity to seek different ways in helping their respective communities. These partnerships help participants understand and connect with different individuals while working together towards a common goal that improves the community as a whole. The Center for Student Involvement at UC San Diego, for example, motivates students to strengthen their community by supporting families through day care and eldercare, improving schools, supporting youth, and beautifying the community.
Community service isn’t only an incentive to complete service hours necessary for graduation. It is also an opportunity for students to escape stress and school work while helping the community through volunteer work. According to John Jae Lee, an active high school volunteer who attends CVHS, without community service involvement, “people individually do not get to experience being with others… [with] differences such as race, gender, or personality.”
As part of its community involvement mission, JSR has begun to produce audio event calendars. If you’re a JSR student and you’d like to be involved, contact Geoff.