Our Youth andAmerica’s Future
By Bill Jones
Thank you Chelsea King for wanting to change the world.
Because of her, I can show you love. I can show you hope. I can show you a dream. Yup, you can actually see them, observe them, absorb them, respond to them, and connect with them.
Love, hope, and dreams are inChelsea’s eyes, in her smile, and in her charisma.
Daily, we are bombarded with the ugliness of life. So many acts of terror; person to person, community to community, nation to nation. We seem to live in desperate times; so many problems, so few solutions. We live in fear of today and tomorrow. What in the world have we adults wrought, what kind of world are we going to leave our children?
Let us remember that this world is our fault. Yet, how often do you hear adults lamenting the future because of “today’s youth?” From one generation to the next it seems to be a constant refrain that our kids are a mess and by extension, so isAmerica’s future. Nothing could be further from the truth.
They say that the eyes are the window into the soul and I agree, with one exception. Chelsea’s window is her eyes and her smile. When I look at her, I see her eyes and her smile at the same time, it is impossible not to, and then I see her. I see her soul and I see love and hope and dreams. To see these things is wonderfully warm and comforting. It is exhilarating and life affirming. There is no need to fear the future when you look at her.
For the past eight years, I have had the privilege of being the Director of Human Services for the Town ofSouthampton. Therefore, I know everything about the Southampton Youth Bureau; what it does on behalf of youth in our community and what it does on behalf of parents by its interactions with their children. The Youth Bureau touches the future today through its relationships and interactions with young people fromSag Harborto Eastport. And these young people touch back.
One of the many programs offered by the Youth Bureau is called Broader Horizons, a summer employment program with placements in the town’s Senior Citizen program, Quogue Wildlife Refuge, and private industry. It is a program about a child’s future as much as it is about his/her present. And one common outcome for these youth is the realization that serving others touches the giver more than the recipient. As Ashley, age 15, said, “Knowing that you’re doing something that they (a Senior) could not and you’re helping them out, it just gives you a good feeling inside.” Our children love to give of themselves. It is as natural to them as breathing. In that giving is a deep, natural desire to make this
world, and their world to come, a better place. That, in fact, wasChelsea’s dream.
At 17Chelseagave up processed food because she was concerned about its impact on the environment. It is one of the reasons that she wanted to become an environmentalist. At 17 her dreams were huge. Not surprising for someone who put post-its on her mirror with quotes from people like Eleanor Roosevelt, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Every time I see her smile and her eyes, I see the beauty of her dreams.
Most of you know that flags are placed at the gravesites of veterans on Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Did you ever wonder who put those flags out? Well, I am one of those people along with other veterans, Boys and Girls Scout troops, and so many others who understand why we still live in a free country. But, this part of my story is not about me, it is about our daughter, Delaney, who is fourteen, and her friends who have been placing flags at theSouthamptonCemeteryfor the past eight years.
One year, out of the blue, the girls started saying, “thank you,” as they placed each flag. Another year, one of Delaney’s friends, took flowers from a bush and placed a flower on each grave.