As of Monday, February 17, 2014
Eight months ago Sunnyside United was formed. I covered the group's recent meeting and was struck by the drive the board members have for youth in Sunnyside and their desire to steer them clear of drugs and alcohol. They have representatives from most every sector of the community and the meeting had good talking points. But that was the other thing that struck me, there was a lot of focus on talking and leadership, but I didn't see actual action items in reaching out to kids through concrete activities. As I understand it, Sunnyside United was formed to replace the Sunnyside's Promise group. Realizing the powers that be apparently had issues with Sunnyside's Promise - and the agency could be frustrating to work with at times - my hope is that Sunnyside United's talking heads will follow their heart and the example of Sunnyside's Promise in offering constructive activities for youth. Speaking of the Sunnyside's Promise example, Sunnyside United has a perfect opportunity now to put action to its words as there is a need for volunteers to help at the community center. With Sunnyside's Promise and SASA (Sunnyside Arts and Sports Association) no longer in the picture - at least in terms of operating the center - Sunnyside United has the potential to fill that void and build further on the anti-drug message. I think partnering with the city to reach out to families and youth at the community center could show the heart that I know Sunnyside United's talking heads have. Otherwise, my concern is Sunnyside United could become a bureaucratic board that has plenty of heart, but lacking in follow-through and specific outreach. That, in turn, could lead to continued frustration about persisting drug and alcohol problems that have plenty of money and time spent on them, but seemingly little to show for it. But I'm confident, hopeful even, that Sunnyside United and the community can avoid a mantra made popular by the Talking Heads, "Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was."