Letters: Support creating New Events and Opportunities (NEO) for youth | TheUnion.com

Letters: Support creating New Events and Opportunities (NEO) for youth

Editor’s note: NEO is hosting an open house 6-8:30 p.m. Thursday at its 139 Joerschke Dr. location in Grass Valley, as part of the national “Keep the Lights on After School” program aimed at creating support for after-school programs and the benefits they provide to communities. See related story on page A3 and visit NCNEO.org for information.

I have been volunteering for NEO for the past four years now and just recently we opened a youth center. This is a huge step for both NEO and the youth in the community.

Growing up in the area as a teenager not involved in sports or clubs, I understand the need for a place for youth to go and just hang out. The NEO youth center provides a safe and caring environment with positive role models inviting any and all that come to our doors. The amount of genuine connections between the youth and the staff really exemplifies the spectacular success of this project.

With so many friends and connections throughout the community it really shows what a invested and homegrown organization NEO really is.

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Kelton McKinley, 18

I got involved with NEO through some friends. At first I was just volunteering to hang out with them, but I saw the impact NEO was having on the youth and that became the main reason why I continue to volunteer.

NEO encourages youth to live a healthy lifestyle and also hosts activities, such as concerts and movie nights, that gives teens something to do. This is important because growing up in this area, I know there’s not a whole lot to do and some teens turn towards drugs or alcohol as something to do. The NEO Youth Center provides a safe place for middle school and high school aged kids to hang out with their friends.

Although the center is relatively new, it is gaining popularity among the youth and more kids are attending.

Nathan Stearns, 19

I started volunteering with NEO in 2013, right after I got out of high school. I got started through the youth program at the Nevada County OneStop, who offered me a position in NEO as an intern. I worked as NEO’s intern for about a year, and once the internship ended I became a volunteer and youth coordinator, and have been active within NEO ever since.

One of my favorite things about NEO is the deep and meaningful friendships that I have made within the organization. Whether it’s in the co-directors, Lynn and Halli, in my fellow coordinators, or in the youth that I’ve met through middle school outreach or youth center hours, there’s a great connection that’s been made.

As a youth coordinator I am often at the youth center during its hours of operation, and the environment is very open and inviting to all the youth that come to visit. It’s a place to go after school with something for everyone to do, which is something I think all middle/high school kids should have. In short, NEO and its youth center is a valuable asset to our community and should remain so for many years to come.

Sophie Dermy, 20

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