Since Grace Gillen’s career goal is to be an attorney, specifically a prosecutor, her St. Paul High School senior project with ROY became a natural fit.
“I want to be a lawyer, so I definitely wanted to do something with the court,” said the daughter of Gary and Lisa, of Norwalk, who has been inspired by participating in the annual mock trial. “We have a close family friend who is a lawyer.”
The mentoring program matches adults with children and youth who are 6 to 18 years old and live in Huron County in a one-on-one relationship. The goal of ROY is to “help youth grow into well-adjusted adults who contribute positively to their community.” The late Thomas E. Heydinger, a retired Huron County juvenile and probate court judge, started the local program in 1978.
“I think it’s a great program and I wanted to help,” Gillen said. “I just wanted to do something positive for the kids in Norwalk who are having a hard life.”
For Gillen’s senior project, she organized a pancake breakfast, which raised money to buy Christmas presents for children in ROY. Executive director Sarah Simmons said the event collected about $1,000 — enough for five kids.
Gillen’s parents, her friend Danny Grine (a 2017 St. Paul graduate), the Juby family, St. Paul home economics teacher Tami Clark, family friend Troy Bryant, St. Paul students Andrew and Jarret Schaffer and Raquel Taggart helped her with the breakfast.
“She was stressed beforehand. It was nice to see it come together,” Simmons said.
Gillen was pleased with the breakfast and her senior project, which included helping to create and run games at the 38th annual Christmas party. She also made props for the photo booth.
“I really loved seeing the kids happy,” the teenager said.
About 80 of the 140 people who attended the party were children and youth.
“It’s great to have kids interacting and having fun,” said Simmons, who appreciated the ROY program participants experiencing “something different from their home life” and “being blessed with more.”
Gillen’s pancake breakfast is in addition to the annual one that ROY holds to raise money for its scholarships.
Currently there are slightly more than 80 children who need a mentor. Any who are interested in volunteering or would like more information, can call 419-663-2525, email [email protected] or stop by the office at the Huron County Courthouse. The ROY website is https://reachouryouth.weebly.com.