By: Miriam Hernandez
Coordinator for Youth Ministry – Salesian Family Youth Center
Wow! I can’t believe how fast April is going by. We now have less than two months before SYLC and with all the end of the year activities and events we must prepare for it’s going to go by even faster.
One of the priorities I had set for the Youth Ministry this year was to keep youth connected and to encourage youth voice. SYLC presents us with the perfect opportunity to do both. I was very excited when the news broke about SYLC coming back again this year.
I was not sure if I would have youth interested in participating in yet another online experience. Pitching SYLC as an experience that allows youth to voice their thoughts, sharpen their leadership skills and take action really resonated with the youth in our ministry. The youth of today are seeking opportunities to thrive and make a difference. Once I had the ten participants that were nominated for their leadership abilities and willing to attend SYLC, I quickly realized that none of them had the funds to pay for it. Funding has been a struggle for everyone during these times of uncertainty.
In our first zoom meeting we talked a lot about fundraising. No one had their camera on even though they were all acquainted. “We all know what you look like already just turn it on”, I joked. Still, it took some time for the cameras turned on. Once on, they pointed at the wall, the ceiling, or their foreheads. That Sunday we sold sodas and Nachos. Many people in the parish made donations and congratulated the teens on their fundraising efforts. Since then, we have held a bake sale and learned that many people in our community are diabetic, snacks and treats. On our last sale the youth became more conscious and brought fresh fruits to make fruit salads to sale as a healthy alternative. Slowly but surely, we are gathering the money we need to raise for SYLC. Our group’s cost is $2,000.00. Fundraising has helped this group of teens become closer and create happy memories. They now share a group chat on Instagram because some of them do not have a working phone line. Working together to reach our goal has been a fun experience for them, I have witnessed them bond so much while waiting for mass to end and even encourage one another to make the announcements.
The young are the reason we do what we do, St. Mary’s Parish and the Salesian Family Youth Center are filled with so many people who support our young people in a loving way. Thank you to all who have contributed. For us in Boyle Heights the experience of SYLC 2021 has already begun!