Success can change a whole family, Linda Manning told a gathering of more than 50 women at the Carlisle Borough Police Station Monday night.
The standing room only crowd brought together the women of Carlisle to discuss the needs of the town’s youths and what they can do to meet those needs.
Manning, the vice-president of the Carlisle school board, told them the story of a student who came to her seeking advice and assistance to become the first member of her family to go to college. Manning agreed on the condition the young woman wait to have children until after she graduated from college.
Manning held to her word and the girl to hers. Now, the woman is a college graduate with a job and has become a mother. Her success changed the family.
“Positive things can happen when just one makes it through,” Manning said.
The women at the meeting want to see many more make it through.
The meeting is the second in a series facilitated by borough police chief Taro Landis. A November meeting challenged the men of Carlisle to step up to make a difference in the lives of troubled youths.
With the simple question, “what do Carlisle youths need?” from Landis, the women came up with a list of about 15 topics ranging from advocacy to a sense of responsibility to celebrating youths’ accomplishments in response.
Landis summarized the list in a single concept.
“We have to teach our children how to be comfortable in their own skin,” he said.
Most of the topics on the list are ones that many of those in the room had learned at home, Landis said. That dynamic has changed over the years.
“What we ask the school to do now, what we ask the police to do now, we ask them to do things that normally people got at home,” Landis said.
The statement prompted the suggestion that parental training is also needed. Landis suggested that could be done through a mentoring program in which people teach those coming up behind them.
“If I can get people who’ve been through some stuff to talk to people who haven’t been through some stuff, maybe, just maybe, we have an opportunity to do something here,” he said.
Brenda Landis, who is a member of borough council, said it is important to engage young people in discussions about the problems they face.
“They have ideas. They see what’s wrong. If we can engage them, they can guide the path as well,” she said.
Children today are facing issues that adults can’t even imagine, and adults must listen before they help, said Safronia Perry, executive director of Hope Station.
“All of these things are really great, but none of this is going to work if we don’t take time to actually listen to the kids,” Perry said.
Samantha Martin, a Carlisle High School sophomore, suggested organizations around town put together a youth council that would bring representatives of those groups together with youth members of the council to discuss issues and open the lines of communication between the organizations and the people they are trying to reach.
A number of organizations including the YWCA, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Carlisle Victory Circle, Carlisle CARES, Color Carlisle and Cumberland Valley Rising, among others, were represented at the meeting, and spoke of various programs already working to guide young people.
Taro Landis suggested the community work on taking a successful program and making it bigger. Another approach suggested by several at the gathering is to better network the existing programs to serve as resources for each other.
Dr. Chavone Momon-Nelson suggested reaching out to people who are not involved, especially people who may not normally attend a meeting like the one held Monday night or the ones that are planned for the future.
“It’s also our responsibility to get these women who wouldn’t necessarily participate and partake in all these wonderful things going on here and getting them involved,” she said.
The meeting ended with a promise from the YWCA of Carlisle to continue holding the meetings on a monthly basis at a time that has yet to be determined.
“There is no doubt in my mind that you are going to move things, and things are going to happen,” Taro Landis said.