Outdoor Fun and Philanthropy with Young Leaders

BY CHRISTINE MASER, YOUNG LEADERS UNITED

For many of the members of Young Leaders United, August is a time to enjoy the beautiful Michigan weather and also time to think about “Back to School.” A great volunteer opportunity we saw that would allow our group to both enjoy the outdoors, engage their families, and improve an education resource for the community was to refresh and expand the Born Learning trails at Plymouth Park and Floyd Elementary.

The Born Learning Trails were originally installed in 2014 and 2015 by Young Leaders United. These trails are a great tool to help kids and parents take education beyond the classroom through a series of fun and engaging stations amongst two wonderful park settings. It’s great to see kids engaging with the trails and using them to spark a learning moment. My 3 year old really loves the frogs and lily pads that were added this year. Watching her jumping from one to another pretending to be a frog is so cute, and it’s a great example of why learning through play at that age is so effective. Between weather and foot traffic, these trails have experienced some wear, so the team wanted to make sure they were repainted this year to make them just as bright and inviting as they were when first installed.

In August Young Leaders United also built a “Little Free Pantry” for use at Floyd Elementary. Similar to the “Little Free Libraries,” it is another tool to ensure resources are accessible to all who need them. It was surprising to me that in Midland Country, 30% of those in need are not utilizing emergency food resources. So, it was great to see United Way and their partner agencies investigating and trialing new paths to ensure all community members with a need have access to assistance. The executive council was excited to support and play a role in this growing community initiative, and we can’t wait to see how it expands and continues to evolve.

Lastly, Young Leaders United held the “Campaign, Craft Beer, and Cornhole” social event at the Midland Brewing Company in September. Those in attendance had the opportunity to hear about the campaign and community impact from Diane Postler-Slattery, 2017 Campaign Chair, as well enjoy the MBC’s delicious offerings and beautiful patio while raising money for the campaign. At the event, twelve teams competed for the coveted Turkey Trophy and the competition was fierce and fun. This laid back and fun networking event was a big hit, and provided members an opportunity to be reminded of the impact Young Leaders United has on this remarkable community and the importance of their participation. With over 50 in attendance, we raised more than $600 for the campaign and were able to spread the word about Young Leaders and United Way.

Q3 was a busy time for Young Leaders United! With several different events, we were able to see many of our members make a positive impact on the communities and also their own families. It was great to see so many folks bring their kids with them to these events and let them play a role in making their community stronger. As we are heading into year-end, we hope you consider joining us to support the Salvation Army and their Thanksgiving Dinner event on Wednesday, Nov 22nd. If you’re interested in assisting with clean-up, please visit: https://eportal.unitedwaymidland.org/GiveThanks.