Local Youth Learning Through Service to Others

Commentary by Kevin E. Cleary

    In my position as Managing Editor for The Homeless Grapevine newspaper, I have had the privilege of working with many volunteers.  Many of these volunteers have come from local colleges, and my experiences with them have shown me that our nation’s youth are not as useless and selfish as public perception would dictate.

    Back in March, I wrote an entry on the Grapevine’s web log about the widespread perception that the post-World War II generations are selfish and lazy, particularly Generation X and the so-called Millennial Generation.  The entry spoke about my sister’s trip to Biloxi, MS to help with post-Katrina rebuilding, and expressed my respect and admiration for the countless young people I have encountered who struggle to make a difference everyday.

    In an effort to combat this negative perception, I felt more should be done to highlight the positive work of young people in Cleveland, especially as we see that teenagers, inspired by videos like “Bum fights,” are becoming a growing threat to homeless people across the country.

    In this, and future issues, I hope to see many more stories about the positive activities of our nation’s youth, and far fewer stories about violence against homeless people.

    I see one problem that helps perpetuate negative perceptions of our youth as a failure by many adults to take young people seriously.  Four students from Dr. Susan Oldrieve’s class at Baldwin Wallace College recently went through hell and back attempting to write stories for The Homeless Grapevine.  The students all complained that potential sources repeatedly failed to return calls, and repeatedly made themselves unavailable, or provided seemingly inaccurate information.  One student, Bryce Goodman, (commentary on next page) interviewed Ruth Gillette, of the Office of Homeless Services, about the pending closure of Aviation High School.  She completely denied knowledge of the closure.  But, just a few days later, the Plain Dealer publicly reported on the closure.

    I’m a cynic at heart, but I still see justifiable hope for the future in our nation’s youth.

Copyright Homeless Grapevine, Cleveland Ohio Issue 81 June-July 2007