Authored by: Sonja Kania, Chief Talent & Social Capital Officer
24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, our employees come to work in order to help support and guide the youth that live on campus. It’s a very rewarding job that also can be challenging some days. We collectively believe the reason WHY we do this work is because WE ARE A CONNECTION THAT GIVES CHILDREN AND FAMILIES THE SAFETY TO TELL AND UNDERSTAND THEIR STORY, THE IMPACT IT HAS AND GIVES THEM HOPE THAT THE POSSIBILITIES FOR THE FUTURE ARE ENDLESS. Most days our youth spend time in school focusing on their education and spending time in groups focusing on recreation and treatment but we also try to provide opportunities to the youth in which they can be part of the local community and see that the opportunities out there are truly endless! Earlier this month, for the the 3rd year in a row, the youth and staff at Norris were able to help volunteer at the Rumble by the River in Big Bend. Not only is this an opportunity for the youth to see the fireworks and the tractor and truck pull but they also get to be part of something bigger; they get to help with planning and setting-up the event and are able to really engage with the surrounding community members. As I sit and reflect on our experience at the Rumble by the River, the first thing that comes to my mind is the sense of community that could be felt throughout the event, especially through the support and guidance our youth got from the group of volunteers, including the members of the Big Bend Celebrations Committee. The committee members really take time and effort to show the boys what happens behind the scenes as well as explaining to them what it takes to set up the giant tent for the band and the food or how long it takes to prep the track for the tractor pull. One youth was fascinated by the giant tent and spent time explaining to me that it takes “Six full hours to get that tent set-up!”
Often times there are misunderstandings about why youth are staying at Norris and many community members don’t really get a chance to interact with our boys because we are located on almost 900 acres and the boys generally, eat, sleep, and go to school on our campus grounds. However, during the Rumble by the River event, the local community really takes pride in engaging with our boys and helping them learn and grow. This year our youth got the unique opportunity of helping to run their own food tent (with the support of some local volunteers) and it was a wonderful way for them to learn and show off some of their customer service skills! And since the weather was very hot and dry this year, many of the youth got to experience what it’s like to work outside for a full-time job, putting up tables and chair, tents and fences for parking! Don’t’ worry! Everyone made sure the boys (and staff) were well fed and drinking lots of water to stay hydrated.
From my experience, I would say this is probably one of the best activities that the boys and staff get to participate in every year. There truly is a sense of community and it really does take a village to help guide and support our youth AND ensure the Rumble by the River is a big success year after year! We had so much fun, we forgot to take pictures but Norris staff also had GREAT things to say about the event:
“I had more fun at the Rumble by the River, then I have had at work in a long time!!”
~ Norris Residential Leader
“This was the first year that I have been able to participate in Rumble by the River but I’ve always have felt the great effects it has had on our clients and organization. One thing that strikes me is that the Rumble is a massive show of potential. Potential of our youth, potential of our organization and potential of our community. I always look back on this time of year as a great source of energy for everyone involved. It was amazing to be a part of it all and I look forward to next year.”