Win means more than lip service
Post Independent Staff
Everyone could see and hear Sharpie the pig at YouthZone’s Kiss-n-Squeal finale Thursday night, but only Abraham Baeza cozied up enough to taste him.
Getting the sweet taste of victory in the 15th annual Kiss-n-Squeal fund-raiser with $24,840 votes, Baeza earned a kiss from a squealing pig. Baeza, who had Alpine Bank as his sponsor, said he worked hard to give back to the kids in the community.
“What moved me were the people at the bank,” Baeza said. “I just really wanted to plant a seed of better community among the kids.”
As principal of Glenwood Springs high school, candidate Paul Freeman knew the impact YouthZone has on kids in the community, making the decision to get involved easy.
“We see their work close-up, and I always say no to this kind of thing, but I just couldn’t say no to this,” Freeman said. “They offer something that can make such a difference to help turn a kid’s life around.”
Guiding kids in the right direction is something YouthZone director Deb Wilde noted as the reason for the group’s existence.
“Twenty-nine thousand kids have gone through our doors,” Wilde said. “Story after story of kids saying, ‘Hey, I got my act together’ just radiates throughout the community.”
Though Wilde credited the community with allowing YouthZone to exist, she also wondered how the community could exist without YouthZone.
“Can you have the community you want without YouthZone?” Wilde said. “I mean when you talk about kids falling through the cracks, it’s (YouthZone) that net, that really catches them.”
When 16-year-old Corie Addie’s brother died, it was the people at YouthZone who broke her fall. Participating in the a mentoring program gave her more than just a place to unwind and express herself.
“With YouthZone, it’s not just a place,” Corie said. “It’s really my family.”
Corie’s time at YouthZone also lifted her into the hands of a community willing to help her succeed.
Wilde said YouthZone’s success couldn’t have come without the community supporting the organization and taking ownership of the kids living in the area.
“YouthZone is not the Deb Wilde show, and it’s all about what we think about our kids,” Wilde said.
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