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A Woman’s Vision for the Village By D. Rena’ Chaney

It Takes a Village”

D. Rena' ChaneyMost are familiar with the African Proverb, “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child” and many see these words as a cliché (just something to say), while others see it as a call to action! Meaning, a Village will come together in support to uplift our children, encourage and empower them, motivate and love them, protect, nurture and raise them as best as we can. The support of a Village does not stop, it continues from Village to Village.

I often think about all the mayhem happening in this world. For over a year now, I’ve been paying extremely close attention to details surrounding it all. Too often we forget how blessed we are, how those little things to us could be a life changing difference for someone else. We have to stop taking things and people for granted and prioritize what is most important. We have to stop being so selfish and start to be more selfless. Time is running out and the people who care the most about these things are becoming scarce.

Bernice Gordon-Young

Bernice Gordon-Young

Bernice Gordon-Young is certainly a person who cares. She is the founder and president of “It Takes a Village, an organization designed to empower children in our community by providing free clothing, school supplies, and food to assist in their development and academic success. After visiting the website: Ms. Gordon-Young came across a funding request from Manual Academy’s Volleyball Coach to purchase new equipment– gym bags. This request was submitted in October 2015 and although donations were made, the goal still had not been reached. On January 10th, through combined efforts from “The Village” and other various donors along with Dick’s Sporting Good Foundation it was announced the goal was met and the team was able to purchase new gym bags.

In continued efforts, Mrs. Gordon-Young then communicated with Heather Young, Principal at Manual Academy to discuss specific challenges students face in school. A few up front issues discussed were truancy, not being prepared for school, and those basic necessities in preparation for school. This discussion was an important focus point on how the Village could help by establishing a “Village Store” within the school and offer items such as school supplies, clothing, outer wear such as coats, hats and gloves, personal hygiene products, hair supplies and a variety of other items for all students. On January 16th a donation drive was held to stock the first Village store at Manual; the community support was phenomenal with various items donated to sell in the Village store. As a long-term vision, It Takes a Village Organization would like to establish a store in all District #150 schools.

In order for a student to obtain items they will have to earn “Ram Bucks” to purchase them. No cash, debit or credit cards will be accepted. The students will have various opportunities to earn “Ram Bucks”. They can be earned by completion of community service hours which is a requirement at District #150 before a student can graduate. Students begin obtaining these hours as a freshman. Other opportunities to earn “Ram Bucks” are tutoring, keeping the grounds clean, assisting staff with special projects, etc.

All donations provided will be used to maintain inventory to restock when supplies get low. If considering to donate items please think about our youth and items for young men and infants as well. Other item suggestions for inventory are diapers, bottles, soap, body wash, toothpaste, hats, gloves, shoes and clothing/gently used/excellent condition, shoes, hair products and just as important items needed are non-perishable foods and water.

Mrs. Gordon-Young’s motivation for action was inspired after meeting with a client she counsels. The struggles her client shared touched her heart in such a way that it called for action. “I prayed about a vision I had and went to the Lord with conviction about it and two weeks later, around the beginning of the year, God placed on my heart what needed to done” she stated.

As the Founder and President, Bernice Gordon-Young’s two, four and six-year goals are to establish and create a non-profit organization, seek grant funding and expand various services for the community as a whole. She has already established a team of like-minded and equally passionate people to help her reach these goals. In addition, she’s also positioned a diverse team of Directors and support team to fulfill key roles in the Village’s organization. The screening process for volunteers consists of a very detailed and structured question and answer process. She is currently in the process of applying for a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit status for the organization. “This isn’t just a project, this is a vision. It is an additional outlet of hope for our youth and community,” Ms. Gordon-Young stated.

Helping others is something Bernice Gordon-Young does for a living. For those who aren’t aware, she is a licensed psychotherapists for Saint Francis Medical Center (OSF), has her own Private Practice, Smart Choice Intervention Clinic, located in the Twin Towers, a Teaching Assistant at Walden University and currently pursuing her Ph.D. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and a member of St. Paul Baptist Church.

Outside of business, Mrs. Gordon-Young has a strong sense of family unity and a wonderful support system of family and friends behind everything she does. Her background incorporates and offers resources as well as resolutions/solutions, encouragement and guidance and great leadership which is a factor greatly needed in our community/world today.

It is of great importance that as a community we remember the African Proverb. There is no time to waste in rebuilding, restructuring and resurfacing our communities. Regardless how big or small, your assistance matters! Please visit the Facebook page “It Takes a Village” to see the donations which were dropped off for “The Village”.

For information on how to donate, volunteer or join “The Village” team call 309/922-1969.

The next “Stock the Village” Donation Drive will be held on February 20, 2016, 10 a.m.-12 noon. Donations may be dropped off at the Twin Towers Building, 456 Fulton Street, Suite #101 in Peoria.