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Local Program Helps Kids and Families

Writer / Jamie Hergott
Photography Provided

Plainfield Youth AssistanceThe Plainfield Youth Assistance Program (PYAP) is the vision of a group of community leaders who wanted to do more to help kids that might need some assistance and positive direction. Ultimately, the Town of Plainfield, the Plainfield Community School Corporation, and Hendricks County leaders came together to establish the PYAP. They recruited a group of community members to design a program that would engage the community holistically, to identify and provide help to vulnerable youth and their families who have experienced some of life’s difficulties.

Overcoming what seemed like endless barriers, including COVID, those individuals built the PYAP from the ground up and created a program that helps kids and families navigate resources available in the community. Grants from the Lilly Endowment Youth Program Resilience Fund and the Rotary Club of Plainfield, as well as donations by numerous individuals to the Plainfield Christian Church Love Your Neighbor Fund, provided much-needed help with startup costs, but the program leaders are looking for opportunities to create a sustainable funding model that will allow the PYAP to meet the needs of the growing number of referrals they are receiving.

The PYAP is led by a volunteer board of directors responsible for developing the strategy, setting goals and objectives, and overseeing the operation of the program. Mark Todisco, who formerly served on the Plainfield school board for more than 20 years, serves as president of the volunteer board.

“One fundamental goal of the program is to help kids stay interested or become interested in school, which statistics show goes a long way to keeping them from developing behaviors that might lead to more serious problems,” Todisco says.

In addition to collaborating with other community organizations, the PYAP members have also experienced some early success in offering services of their own, with a focus on mentoring. Once the foundation was built and the program was able to accept referrals, the PYAP team initiated a structured mentoring program for elementary-aged children that was offered during the last school year. Designed to engage mentors and mentees, and offer fun while learning character skills, positive behaviors, social interaction and creativity, the program demonstrated positive outcomes for all the kids who participated, and served as the springboard for a number of other programs that were offered this past summer.

Much like the structured mentoring program, the summer programs were developed to engage youth in opportunities and experiences, such as woodworking, floral design, photography and gardening. A number of individuals volunteered their time and talents to design and lead the summer programs. The programs, which were sponsored by Duke Energy, emphasized the joy of learning and opened the door for the youth who participated to pursue new interests and make new friends.

Plainfield Youth AssistanceGoing forward, PYAP leaders plan to build on the successes of the mentoring and summer programs, and develop a more robust and ongoing mentoring program that will focus on helping kids discover the joy of learning, explore career paths, and ultimately become civic-minded leaders. 

Staci Hovermale was recently hired as the PYAP’s full-time director to provide strategic direction, and oversee the day-to-day operations. Brandi Beasley serves as an early-intervention advocate for the PYAP and works with kids and families referred to the program. The PYAP operates under the umbrella of the Hendricks County Youth Assistance Program. While the PYAP focuses exclusively on the needs of youth and families in the Plainfield community, the hope is to create similar programs in other Hendricks County communities. Hovermale also serves as director of the Hendricks County Youth Assistance Program. Currently, Hovermale and Beasley are the PYAP’s only employees, serving a caseload of more than 70 children and their families.

One of Hovermale’s first priorities was to work with members of the PYAP board to establish a vision and mission statement that would clearly communicate to the community what the PYAP is all about. Hovermale says that the vision of the PYAP is “investing in, assisting, and empowering vulnerable youth and families in Plainfield by engaging our community to help them realize their self-worth, embrace the joy of learning and achieve their full potential.”

“The Plainfield Youth Assistance Program serves as a voluntary early intervention and advocacy process for at-risk youth and families in Plainfield,” Hovermale continues. “PYAP engages the community holistically and brings together individuals, businesses, faith-based and other nonprofit organizations to provide support, enrichment and opportunities for youth and their parents and caregivers.”

As the PYAP’s vision and mission statement make clear, the program is a community effort.

Plainfield Youth Assistance“Relationships are the core to everything we do, including raising funds for the program and recruiting volunteers,” Hovermale says. “It is all about forming meaningful relationships with individuals, organizations and corporations who are willing to volunteer their time, talents and other resources to have a positive and lasting impact in the lives of the children and families in our community.”

There are multiple entities within the PYAP that have come alongside the youth and families, and have welcomed and embraced the program. These are resources to help support and provided services:

  • Family Promise of Hendricks County: Joint and shared services and resources
  • Strides to Success: Equine-assisted learning/building character and life skills; individuals and groups; classroom for training and mentoring
  • Plainfield Parks and Recreation Department: The garden and free or discounted aquatic and recreation memberships; sports leagues
  • Tutoring: Retired teachers volunteer group; middle school and high school
  • Gift Kindness: Food security
  • My Daily Walk: Clothing
  • CrossFit/Unbreakable Athletics Academy: Health, fitness, mind and body strength
  • Optimist Club: Sports for youth
  • Library: Rooms for trainings; individual and structured mentoring
  • Individual Donors: Cash and in-kind
  • Individual, family, club and business sponsorships

The community continues to show support for the PYAP. In September, Oasis Diner and Jack’s Donuts provided proceeds from their eating contest at the Quaker Days festival to the PYAP. Also, leaders at the Shops at Perry Crossing offered to have a mural painted by artist Kylin Brown to help bring awareness to the PYAP. This event gave the opportunity for the community to add their handprint to the mural. Thirty-two businesses and families in the Plainfield community sponsored the mural, the event, and additional programming for PYAP kids and families.

For more information, please visit plainfieldyouthassistance.org, or follow the PYAP on Facebook or Instagram. Make a referral, become a volunteer, make a donation or simply stay up to date.

If you would like the PYAP staff or board members to speak with your organization or club meetings, please email staci@plainfieldyouthassistance.org.

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