Guest Commentary: Proof that good things can come out of West Rehoboth

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Diaz J. Bonville is the co-founder of the West Rehoboth Children and Youth Program and the president of West Side New Beginnings. For more information, email diaz122455@aol.com.

West Side New Beginnings was formed in 1990 and became incorporated in April 1992. An Executive Committee was chosen. The goal of West Side is to make the community a better, safer place for our youth and families to live. Our mission is to establish a cohesive network to address the needs and concerns of the community as they relate to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, self-esteem, housing, nutrition, education and recreation.

The West Rehoboth Children and Youth Program, under the auspices of West Side New Beginnings Inc., is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that began in 2002 with after-school mentoring classes held at the West Side New Beginnings Inc. Community Center.

Co-founder and executive director Brenda Milbourne and I are the pioneer organizers of the program and have been recognized on local and state levels for our community services.

A summer program was added in 2003 with additional funding through grants and contributions. In 2005, the summer program was upgraded to increase the emphasis on literacy.

The core mission of the West Rehoboth Children and Youth Program is to promote literacy, learning and health by providing wholesome after-school and summer enrichment activities for the children of the community. The program is aimed at giving them a chance to succeed in the busy world outside West Rehoboth.

We tell our children where you live does not dictate what you will become, and people do not decide their future; but instead they decide their habits, then their habits decide what their future holds. Our team “makes the impossible possible by expanding young minds.”

Since the inception of the program in 2002, several former students/student volunteers have excelled and continue to excel in many areas. They have attended and graduated from colleges/universities with associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees in music, criminal justice, business administration, accounting, education, art, cosmetology, culinary arts, marketing, medical malpractice law, information technology, public health, public policy, psychology, sociology, visual arts, web design and computer science.

They have attended such schools as Delaware State University, Delaware Technical Community College, Drexel University, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Goldey-Beacom College, Grambling State University, Hampton University, Howard University, Keystone College, Loyola University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Philadelphia art schools, Tennessee State University, the University of Delaware, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, the University of South Carolina, Johnson & Wales University and Wilmington University, just to name a few.

One of our students was featured in The Metropolitan Magazine. Several of our students participated in Pathways to Success’ Fair Housing training. Several of our students received a certificate of recognition as Cape Henlopen School District distinguished students in math and reading, based on outstanding performance during the Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System. All of these youth received a score of 4, which was the highest number a student could receive.

Two of our youth are recipients of WBOC-TV’s prestigious Jefferson Awards. One of our students won honorable mention in the student division for one of her photos in the nature photography contest at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. Two of our students were featured in Delaware Beach Life magazine for raising funds to help the homeless. One of our students received the Ellendale Community Civic Improvement Association award for community service.

The West Rehoboth Children and Youth Program is a recipient of the Governor’s Youth Volunteer Service Award for a variety of community service projects, totaling over 1,000 hours, and a Champion for Children Award from the Sussex County Health Coalition. It has participated in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Parade, in 4-H Youth Development and in the Governor’s Youth Volunteer Service Awards. One of our youths was featured in Delmarva African American Pride Magazine. The program has received proclamations recognizing our dedication to enriching the youth of Sussex County through academic and recreational activities, naming July 22, 2015, as West Rehoboth Children and Youth Program Day. Two of our students were selected to represent West Rehoboth and Delaware State University at the National 4-H Youth Development Program.

Seven of our students received awards at Delaware State University’s Summer Enrichment Program for outstanding academics, outstanding youth leadership and outstanding community service.

The West Rehoboth Children and Youth Program held a summer reading challenge, and our students read 2,084 books, with one of our students appearing on WMDT-TV 47. Three of our students are recipients of the Better Delmarva Awards. One of our students was selected to attend the People to People Youth Conference in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

The West Rehoboth Children and Youth Program was nominated for the Chase Community Giving award. One of our students was selected to be on the front cover of a magazine as a “Young Hero.” Several of our students were selected into the acclaimed Minority Engineering Regional Incentive Training program for academically gifted and talented minority youth. Several of our students attended the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.

Children enrolled in the West Rehoboth Children and Youth Program volunteer in our community performing a myriad of jobs, such as delivering meals to seniors, picking up trash, setting the tables, planting and taking care of their first flower garden, and cleaning tables at the community center.

The West Rehoboth Children and Youth Program is now 20 years operating, as of July 23, serving children, youth and their families in the community. We could not have done — and continue to do — the things we do without the support of so many caring individuals, organizations, businesses, sponsors, churches and others like you.

We are forever grateful.

Thank you to all our loyal, caring and concerned supporters for your ongoing support. We are all in this together to save our children because they are our future.

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