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Furthering youth not on agenda at GYC

There’s a morbidly engrossing spectacle in Corydon, pitting children, and the adults who are ‘for them,’ against community leaders in a passionate public debate.
About two dozen teens and another 70 or so adults participated as a police officer questioned the integrity of a former prosecutor, a child sought to publicly humiliate a business administrator, and a board member rallied children against all of whom he called politicians.
Two public meetings of the board of Furthering Youth Inc. at the Gerdon Youth Center have deteriorated into conjecture, hearsay, baiting, conspiracy theories and a witch hunt, all mediated by a broken board. Furthering Youth disappeared from the agenda in both cases.
It is NOT in the best interests of the youth center to hold a public meeting so that kids can speak out of context about drug possession at GYC or so kids can witness personal attacks being exchanged between community leaders and authority figures.
The responsibility for maintaining order in these meetings and curbing inappropriate comment, even when it comes from the public, lies with the board president, and that position was obviously usurped before Thursday’s meeting.
The board should speak as one voice, and one outspoken board member apparently decided that voice should be his own.
It’s possible that some may have forgotten how this all started. It began privately when Debbie Heazlitt gave Brent Lewis the option to resign immediately or be fired from his job as her right hand at the Gerdon Youth Center. Lewis, the program director, resigned.
Lewis is wildly popular with the youth at GYC and put in long hours. But it’s also a fact that funding there has grown rapidly under Heazlitt’s tenure and many professionals speak very highly of the job she has done there.
Whether or not Lewis should have lost his job is a private personnel matter. If it is to be reviewed, it should be done by a board in full possession of the facts, not by a mob in possession of rumor.
Most of the audience at the recent meetings were there to support Lewis at the start of each meeting. Most were present to oppose Heazlitt by the end of the meeting. A ‘vote’ taken by the showing of hands confirmed it.
The outcome of the vote was surprising considering that the audience spent the majority of each session discussing GYC’s Alternative School.
The floor was opened to the public during the second meeting with the announcement from the board’s new unofficial spokesman that the public could talk about the ‘alternative school or whatever else.’
I wonder what he wanted to talk about?
GYC is a non-profit facility that exists to provide positive opportunities for youth. It does this by providing programs and clearing obstacles that could prevent kids from participating in them.
An opportunity could be as modest as a dry place to play basketball on a rainy day. It could be as dramatic as keeping children in school and empowering them with knowledge.
Recent weeks have threatened the viability of the center, and the problem obviously goes all the way to the top: the board. These concerns are why Thursday’s meeting was attended by those responsible for allocating funding to the center.
Those funding sources were insulted by the new spokesman whose ignorance of the entire process was exposed in short order.
I feel sure Lewis didn’t want things handled this way.
It’s time the board gets smart and proves to those to whom it is accountable that it is capable of providing leadership at Gerdon Youth Center.
Parents, children, superintendents, the juvenile court system, county council members and commissioners need to know the center is in good hands. If that doesn’t happen, it’s up to the center’s financial backers to insist on an overhaul.