logo, north quabbin young leaders council

North Quabbin Young Leaders Council helped shape regional youth policies and programs. Young Leaders, aged 15 to 21, identified issues of concern to youth in the region and helped schools, organizations, and businesses do a better job of meeting the needs of youth. This was also a great opportunity to beef up their resumes, gain leadership skills, and open the door to job/career opportunities. There were no membership fees and youth could join by submitting an application and attending a Council meeting. The Council decided to accept or decline candidates in closed session. 

Activities

  • Helped develop and construct a music studio, PhilHarmonix Studio, at YES 
  • Helped develop and sponsored BizVenture Series 1 (a youth business education series)
  • Launched QuabbinTeens.org (a web portal for area teens)
  • Organized an annual Community Coalition for Teens youth conference
  • Developed a youth idea to prevent infant abuse by creating a onesie with abuse prevention messages
  • Helped organize and stage local production of Vagina Monologues

Youth Representation

  • Hosted and facilitated two forums for 2nd Franklin District state representative candidates
  • Organized and hosted YouthSpeak, an annual youth jobs forum
  • Sent a representative to sit on the local Cultural Council
  • Sent a representative to sit on an area Youth Policy Board
  • Sent a representative to sit on the Regional Employment Boards’ Youth Council

Awards

  • Two members won a regional Youth Peacemaker Award
  • One member was nominated for a regional Youth Citizen of the Year Award

Fundraising

  • Tabled and ran shuttle parking service for North Quabbin Garlic & Arts Festival
  • Raised $400 by organizing and running two community spaghetti suppers
  • Ran a food vending and amusement item table at Greenfield’s July 4th celebration
  • Raised $272 via vending machine at YES, bottle & can redemption
  • Ran a bake sale at the annual Miller’s River Challenge canoe race to benefit another area youth program 

Sponsors
Orange House of Pizza
Massachusetts Service Alliance’s International Youth Service Week
Compassion Capital Fund at Mt. Wachusett Community College
Franklin-Hampshire Regional Employment Board/Pathways to Success by 21
North Quabbin Community Coalition
Community Coalition for Teens

tapestry health logo

Tapestry Health is “dedicated to being a leader in providing high quality, caring health services and advocacy for all those who are disenfranchised and underserved with an emphasis on women and youth.” Founded in 1973, Tapestry today has twelve clinics throughout Western Massachusetts and serves as many as 20,000 clients each year, half of whom are under 22 years of age.

Recent budget cuts to state funding for reproductive health services dealt a blow to Tapestry’s ability to provide services, especially through its more remote clinics. It’s Athol clinic, for example, was forced to close once, shift location twice, and limit its hours to just one afternoon each week.

Given the relatively high teen pregnancy and poverty rates in the North Quabbin region, Tapestry was looking to reach out to greater numbers of teens, especially those at high risk. Since state reimbursement rates through Medicaid fund much of the cost of serving clients, with reimbursement rates higher for high risk youth, increasing the volume of youth served would also help keep the Athol clinic open.

The Approach
With funding from the Community Coalition for Teens, Tapestry hired members of the Young Entrepreneurs Society (YES) BizVenture! programs at Athol High School and in Orange to help Tapestry better serve North Quabbin teens.

Market Research
The members conducted general, demographic and survey market research.

Marketing Campaign
The marketing campaign has included flyers, letters to the editor, a press release, and an on-line survey linked to the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

The members also produced a TV commercial aimed at parents and grandparents of teens most at risk. The dramatic piece was written, shot, directed and edited by Eric Boughton (YES ’03) and Samantha Charter (YES ’03) with help from Athol-Orange Community Television. “Sam and I have covered town meetings (for AOTV) before,” said Boughton, “but this was a new challenge for us. We had to figure out what would appeal to our target audience and how to present a topic that is a real hot button in this area.”

Kayleigh Aldrich (YES ’03), who turned in a captivating performance as a ‘possibly’ sexually-active teen, said it took awhile for her to warm to the idea of acting in front of a camera. “You wonder what your friends are going to think… like you’re like your character.” But she said it was worth it. “The more real we can make it (for the viewer) the better.” Holly Boisvert, 32, a YES volunteer, played Kayleigh’s on-screen mother. “I was a teen mom and I’m raising teens myself,” she said. “I know this is the kind of information that needs to get out to the community.”

Boughton screened the piece for Tapestry staff in December and Boughton and Charter did likewise for Tapestry’s board in March. Tapestry plans to air the 2-minute piece on community stations in western Massachusetts.

Members also established the need for a teen reproductive health website by surveying 358 youth at Athol High School. The members worked with Tapestry staff, health counselor Deen Leonard, web designer David Wiles (YES), and graphic designer Jen Lambert to create the site.

The mission of North Quabbin TechACCESS was to make the North Quabbin region accessible to all by helping residents with disabilities expand their social, academic, and livelihood horizons by making local programs, services, and opportunities more accessible. A Committee of people with disabilities and their caregivers, staff from schools, businesses and organizations, and other interested parties developed TechACCESS activities. The work began with workshops conducted by the Alliance for Technology Access (ATA) that covered:

 Accessible Materials, Websites, Communication
 Reaching Out & Including People with Disabilities
 Accessible Facilities & Programs
 Accessible Computer Hardware & Software

In addition to making YES fully accessible, the committee created a Resource Directory and organized a Work Bee where 25 community volunteers helped with clean-up, organizing, and renovation tasks at YES in partnership with North Quabbin Time Bank.

About Connections for All (C4All)
C4All helped CTCs (Community Technology Centers) to better serve people with disabilities. Funded by the AT&T Foundation, C4All was a collaboration with CTCNet and the ATA. YES was one of only 14 CTCs nationwide receiving a C4All accessibility grant and the only one based outside a major city. (Thanks to James Fanning, 18, a local homeschooler, who helped write the proposal.) Additional staff support was provided by CTCNet’s AmeriCorps*VISTA Project. 

Orange, MA economic history mural, 1998

Putnam Opera House Mural

YES members participating in our summer 1999 BizVenture! class painted four 5’x8′ panels depicting Orange from the 1600’s and into the future. The panels were installed over the street-level windows of historic Putnam Opera House, a once grand but then derelict brick structure. Remarkably, the panels remained intact and free from graffitti for more than a decade at the time Putnam Hall was razed. Mary King provided artistic direction. Hamshaw Lumber donated plywood, paints, and tools. A Public Service Endowment Grant from UMASS, Amherst made the program possible.