The Carmel Gala and CYAP Are Changing Lives

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April 2019

Writer // Janelle Morrison Photos // Courtesy of CYAP

If you attended last year’s 2nd Annual Carmel Gala: Design Bright Futures, then you already know how much fun attendees are going to have dancing to The Bishops, dining and learning about Carmel Youth Assistance Program (CYAP) at this year’s gala Saturday, April 13 at the 502 East Event Centre in
Carmel. The proceeds are used to meet the CYAP’s most pressing needs, helping the most vulnerable children and families in the Carmel community.

The Carmel Gala and CYAP Are Changing Lives
Carmel Gala: Design Bright Futures

CYAP was formed in the fall of 2015 to help strengthen youth and families through community involvement. CYAP works in collaboration with the Carmel Clay School District, City of Carmel and the Hamilton County Superior Court and provides crucial support to Carmel kids and families in need with programs such as Carmel Summer Meals and CYAP.

Educating the community about the need for CYAP is just as great in Carmel as it is anywhere else in Indiana and remains a top priority for CYAP Board President Guenter Haines, his board members and staff. In 2018, CYAP received 137 referrals and 107 in 2017. CYAP currently has 102 active cases at the time of this publication. Clearly, as the city’s population grows, the need for CYAP services grows with it.

“There’s an argument to be made that in a community of affluence, if you are a person of need, it is super lonely,” Haines said. “Because you can’t necessarily turn to your next door neighbor or across the street and find somebody in your similar situation. So where do you go? Who do you tur to? There’s a lot of anonymity in affluence with mental health and with people who are in need, and that’s one of the things that we need to break down and understand better. When you have a population of approximately 90,000, you have at-risk people, and mental health crosses all boundaries. Job loss crosses all boundaries just as healthcare issues do. Any one of those things is significant, but you put two together, and you’re definitely in a situation that can put you in the need of CYAP services.”

There are more children who need CYAP mentors than there are mentors, so the need for available and willing people is real and pressing.

“In terms of the support that is provided to the mentoring program, it has grown leaps and bounds since it started a year and a half ago,” shared Maggie Figge, CYAP early intervention advocate. “I think one of our greatest needs is more mentors. In my opinion, mentoring is probably the most crucial support available to a child that is going through A, B or C. If they don’t have a trusting adult and support person who’s going to be there for them, it makes it way more difficult to get that child back on track.”

The Carmel Gala and CYAP Are Changing Lives
Enjoy many fun activities at the Carmel Gala: Design Bright Futures

Figge’s colleague and CYAP Early Intervention Advocate Melissa Yarger added, “Since coming on board in December, I’ve been focusing on supporting our mentors. We have mentor meet-ups where all the mentors of Hamilton County Youth Assistance Programs can get together and swap stories. We hosted our first Mentor Mingle Night at Urban Vines in January, and it was so cool hearing the mentors share their stories. We’re hoping to do more things like that for our mentors.”

Three years after establishing, CYAP continues to work at identifying gaps, and if those gaps fall under the mission of CYAP, Haines emphasized that CYAP will fill them.

“We are unwilling to compromise on a child or family that needs our help,” Haines stated. “I think that’s what you’ve seen from us in our first three years with the Mentoring Program and with Carmel Summer Meals. We’re the genesis of those two programs. Now that we’re established, we are really working at proving what we do by having data that shows our ROI to the community and corporate partners. We’re trying to be opportunistic at what’s next for us. We think we have a lot of interest as well as a lot of need in the [Carmel] schools to have a nonprofit partner tackle mental health, so we’re working with Dr. Beresford and his administration to figure out what role we would play in that. We are keeping open minds as we figure out how we can help and be an agent of change for mental health within the

When asked about statistics showing that CYAP and other YAPs in Hamilton County have a direct impact on the decreasing number of juvenile detainees at the Juvenile Services Center in Noblesville, Haines replied,

“When they decided to build the center [in 2007], it was already at max capacity. The reports show that every time a YAP was established in a community, the daily attendance in the [Juvenile] center went down.”

Youth Assistance Program Results

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The Carmel Gala and CYAP Are Changing Lives