By Honor Schauland
Right now it is easy for me to get stuck in negative thoughts and conflict. These are hard times, and more difficulty lies on the horizon. Seeing the fights and incivility online and at state, national and global levels, it feels as if our entire civilization is on the brink of sweeping changes – some good, some not so good.
Our isolated communities face many problems. Needed services are often far away. There is a lack of jobs, housing, and infrastructure. There is a lack of funding for everything. There are more leadership positions to fill than our sparse population allows, and our citizens often lack time or energy to participate. Our youth are at risk amid rising meth and opiate addiction. The cost of living rises steadily, as do land prices. We have healthcare issues for seniors trying to stay in their homes and community. In fact, there are healthcare issues of every sort, along with services and solutions that don’t always address the unique needs in our unique area.
It’s easy to feel downhearted since these issues are numerous and not so easy to resolve. Yet it also seems reasonable to distrust those who claim to have easy solutions. On a personal level, we have little or no control. But – on a community level – there is no question that, by working together, we can make headway on many of these issues. Getting the right people in the same room leads to amazing changes.
Here is what we are doing right and what more we can do.
The good news is: as a community, we are working on our issues – sometimes without even realizing it. One example that stands out is the Finland Community Youth Program. It is awesome and magical to watch kids growing up and learning to be leaders through their participation in Youth Night and the many other activities the Youth Program provides. Strengthening the Youth Program is about creating the future citizens our community needs. Youth development IS economic development. We want to build pathways to help young people return here, move here, or stay here.
Furthermore, Finland’s Youth Program is a good strategy to prevent our young folks from falling into drug and alcohol abuse. We’ve always known this, but perhaps we need to emphasize even more how crucial it is that we have the participation of every caring, functional citizen possible in order to overcome all the daunting problems listed earlier! If we’re going to build the better world that our hearts know is possible, we need all of us.
With that in mind, the Clair Nelson Center is putting out a call for adults, young and old, to lead evening activities on weeknights, like volleyball, basketball or even an open gym night for ages 15 and up. We have had strong, active leaders over the years, but things always change with time. More recently, these activities have not been happening consistently. We need a leader or a couple co-leaders to be the “buck-stops-here” people who will be in charge of opening up the building, monitoring activities, filling out a use sheet for the Community Center’s records, and making sure things are clean and closed up afterwards. Essentially, you would be helping us provide a safe and fun space available for the young people who really need it.
If you are interested in being part of this, please let us know. You would be meeting a huge need!
Another project in progress is expanding our summer day camp for school age kids, Camp Finland, to more than one week. We are also thinking about trying out a one or two day language and culture camp for both Finnish and Spanish. If you are interested in helping out with any of these activities, please contact us at 218-353-0300 or use the form below.
As always, your donations for these activities are so appreciated. Donate here. Thanks for all of your support!