Letter: The kids are worth it

Editor:

With each holiday season that comes, I find myself reflecting on the blessings I have in my life.

I have a wonderful loving husband, healthy children that are respectful and caring, four healthy grandchildren, with another on the way, a warm home, great career, and my parents are still with me and living a healthy life.

I am truly blessed.

Several years ago, when we moved to the Verde Valley from Las Vegas, I became involved with the Boys & Girls Club of Northern Arizona.

I have had several people ask me what it is that keeps me involved, especially since my children are grown and on their own.

It is time for me to share my story:

When my children were adolescents, I was a single parent in Las Vegas. Las Vegas can be a very difficult place to raise children.

Las Vegas is also an incredible place to raise children. Keeping kids active in sports, school, music, arts, and church can give a child self-esteem, a sense of worth and belonging, leadership skills, and the value of team work.

I feel that this is true of all towns and cities. Cottonwood is no different.

When my son was young, he did not have a place to explore his talents. He did not like school and felt he did not belong.

He struggled with choosing appropriate friends and challenged family values. This started before the age of 12.

Throughout his teenage years he struggled with drugs, running away, drinking. I remarried, we brought my son to Arizona with us and we started a new adventure. My son has excelled in Arizona.

I look back at those times with a sense of guilt as a parent.

What could I have done differently and what should I have done differently? Life should not have been that painful for a boy.

Had I enrolled him in the Boys & Girls Club maybe he would have found out at that young age that he loves to write music, play guitar, and draw.

Maybe exposing him to his talents that he discovered later in his life would have given him a sense of worth.

Maybe I would have been the one that was enlightened. Opening this door for him may have taken the pain away. Maybe a director at the club would have been his mentor.

Maybe the kids at the club would have put together a band, which is what happened recently at one of our clubs here.

The possibilities of positive exposure for a child are endless.

I don't want another parent to ask "what if" and I don't want another child to live with pain they don't understand.

Boys & Girls Club of Northern Arizona encompasses Cottonwood, Sedona, and the Village of Oak Creek.

One person can make a positive difference in a child's life. I ask you "Will you be the one?"

I ask for your support, as a community, to help the youth in the Verde Valley. If you are in a position to give of your dollars, please do so.

If you are in a position to give of your time, please consider becoming a board member.

Either way, you can enhance a child's life.

We are currently finishing up our Annual Campaign.

Please contact the Cottonwood Boys & Girls Club for information on how you can contribute or how you can become a board member at 639-3057.

Thank you Cottonwood.

Tracy Voytek

Cottonwood

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