November 7, 2010 in Idaho Voices

Youths can get involved through CAL Teens

By Correspondent

More than three decades ago as a group of families were gathered on the beach in Sandpoint for some fun and relaxation, the women began talking about the needs of the community and what could be done to provide more for their children, the schools, and the place that they call home. And it wasn’t long before they were taking matters into their own hands.

Now, 31 years later, Sandpoint’s Community Assistance League is still alive and stronger than ever. The nonprofit organization raises funds, researches, plans and develops programs that benefit the entire community.

“Where there’s a need, we step up,” said CAL board member Patty Bowman of the many grants, scholarships and volunteer time the group gives to the community.

Now there will be even more CAL members to step up to the plate to fulfill a need. Earlier this year the group chose to add a new dimension to their mission – CAL Teens.

With a community that has grown significantly in the past decade, the idea of extending membership to the younger generation seemed appropriate and was well received when proposed to the members.

“It all started with past (CAL) president Barbee Buchanan,” said Bowman, who added that once they decided to go ahead and form the new group, they followed the model of the national organization Assist Teens.

When CAL first began they made a conscious effort to not become affiliated with any national service organization and the same will go for CAL Teens.

“They felt strongly that people outside Bonner County should not be making decisions about our community,” said Bowman of the founding members. “And they wanted all funds raised here staying here.”

CAL Teens currently has five members but now that school is back in session, momentum has picked up.

“I’ve been giving out applications,” said Sandpoint High School sophomore Liz Kovalchuk, CAL Teen president.

Liz’s mom, Rebecca, is a member of CAL and that inspired Liz to join the CAL Teen group.

“I went to the spring luncheon and heard how much had been raised,” said Liz who adds that she looks forward to attending the dinner where the Community Assistance League awards grants and scholarships. “I heard it’s really emotional.”

The teens are receiving a great deal of support from the older generation. There are currently no fees being assessed and some of the CAL members attend the teen meetings as well.

“It is nice to see the younger girls with the other members of CAL and benefitting from what these women have done,” said Bowman.

Instilling in the teens the desire to serve the community is one of the objectives of forming CAL Teens.

“We really want them (the teens) to have that sense of service,” said Bowman. “And not because of a graduation requirement but because they want to give back to their community.”

Five years ago CAL members opened an upscale resale shop and since that time the money they have raised has increased significantly each year.

“We have been growing in leaps and bounds,” said Bowman of the business venture.

It is from that store, Bizarre Bazaar that the teens will begin to raise funds. They are soon moving to a new location where a part of the store will be designated as the teen section with all proceeds of teen clothing and other items going to the younger group.

“I try to volunteer in the shop one Saturday a month,” said Liz who is also involved with the National Honor Society and sports.

With CAL already having such an outstanding reputation in this community, the CAL Teen group is sure to receive instant recognition when soliciting area businesses, individuals and organizations for donations to help their fundraising efforts.

“Our community is wonderful and because of what we do for the community, businesses are willing to help,” said Bowman. “And we have good strong ties with other organizations in the community.”

And now with the formation of CAL Teens Bowman is sure that Community Assistance League will be around for decades to come.

“It is assuring that what we do – which is helping the community wherever needed – will keep going on and on.”

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