Just like the past three years, HOLLA! and the Youth Career Connect program have been in a partnership — a partnership to build strong children.
“They bring us the students and we give them the freedom and motivation to discover themselves and each year has been amazing, but his one has been especially so,” said Leon Gatewood, CEO of HOLLA! “We have witnessed these youth develop socially, right before our eyes.”
The YCC grant program, funded through the U.S. Department of Labor, is designed to encourage America’s school districts, institutions of higher education, the workforce investment system, and their partners to scale up evidence-based high school models that will transform the high school experience for America’s youth.
Anson County Schools is one of only 24 systems across the country to receive funding for the program. Deborah Davis is the local program coordinator.
HOLLA!’s role in the success of the YCC program has been to host days packed with good food, motivation, prizes and mentoring from a group of dedicated volunteers.
Signature features of each day are the impromptu talent searches and the balloon release.
During the balloon release, students are asked to attach bullies and other situations that keep them from reaching their full potential to the balloons and release them.
The impromptu talent shows really bring the stars out. Many of the students offer their talent to entertain and motivate their classmates.
A standout in the impromptu talent search was Savannah Bennett.
“I had such a great day at HOLLA!. Their encouraging words and videos had a positive impact on my day,” Bennett said.
She reciprocated with a soul-stirring rendition of “Rise Up” by Andra Day that set the tone for the day:
“And I’ll rise up
I’ll rise like the day
I’ll rise up
I’ll rise unafraid
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousand times again … “
Gatewood said that HOLLA! dedicates those lyrics to the volunteers who dedicate their time to this project and to Davis and her staff who “constantly find ways to bring the best out of our children.”
HOLLA! Community Development Corporation is a 501 c 3 nonprofit organization, operating at 229 East Main Street in Morven. For more information, visit www. HOLLA.ws