YouthZone column: Simplify your life and foster community relationships |

YouthZone column: Simplify your life and foster community relationships

Alexander Williard

Tiny homes, flip phones and paid off loans. These are just a few of the staples that a minimalistic lifestyle has lauded in recent years. It’s a shift in contemporary thinking, triggered by the 2008 financial collapse, a monetary renaissance if you will. People lost jobs, homes, stock portfolios and a slew of other things that truly don’t matter in comparison to family and friends. For some, it helped them realize that when you aren’t working 60 plus hours a week, to maintain a lifestyle, it truly frees up time for your kids, or your dogs. Maybe it even gives you a chance to stop and have a short conversation with your neighbor in the mornings before the commute to work. The point is, many of life’s crises are simply calling us to connect and grow on an emotional level, which is exactly what we promote in our client’s healing process.

Every day our team of trained professionals, consisting of our case managers, youth advocates and support staff, show up to YouthZone with that exact mentality — Connect and Grow. This tagline permeates the structure of our organization. From our leadership to our community volunteers, it ensures that everything we do is in the direction of intentional connection for our community’s youth. We’ve found that kids and adults that are socially engaged take better care of their community and have higher self-esteem, because their contributions are valued. That’s why we encourage you to put down the phone, maybe keep the old Mac Book you have for a couple more years and live a little below your means. It’ll afford you more than a bigger savings account, because it will allow you to “actually” enjoy time away from the office, work site or studio, providing you the chance to foster deeper growth in your relationships and community involvement.

In short, we don’t have to continue living divided by LCD screens, ZIP codes and imagined social barriers. By coming together as a community, we have a much better shot at ensuring everyone’s well-being, including our own. When we take the initiative to support social engagement and avenues of creative expression for our youth we’re allowing them to have a voice, giving a sense of validation and community ownership. These types of opportunities for youth involvement are just a few important pieces, of many, to a solid foundation for youth growing up in the Roaring Fork Valley. That’s why, at YouthZone, we promote the mentality of “our struggle” rather than “their struggle,” so reach out to those around you; sometimes a kind gesture is all that someone really needs.

If you’ve ever considered supporting nonprofit social service work, why not consider supporting YouthZone? By helping us to Connect and Grow with clients, you’re offering sustainable stability and hope that can make it through any of our economy’s ups and downs.

To connect with us on a more meaningful level, please stop by, or visit our Facebook page at

Alexander Williard is an AmeriCorps Vista volunteer.

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