|Written by Greg Ruland|
|Wednesday, 21 July 2010 06:00|
The Cottonwood Youth Advisory Commission, a group responsible for helping Cottonwood City Council understand issues important to local children, loses several charter members this month, including two who were there from the very beginning, City Representative Hezekiah Allen said.
Mayra Garcia and Jill Peterson, both 18, graduated from Mingus Union High School in May and are preparing to head for college. Both said they will leave Cottonwood with many good memories and a sense of accomplishment about their five years in service to the city.
“Mayra and Jill have been a rock,” Allen said. “I could always count on their great ideas and their passion to get things done.”
Among the first commissioners when council created the group in 2005, Garcia and Peterson were eighth-graders with a lot to learn when it all began, Garcia said.
The first priority for the commission, Garcia said, was to establish a new recreation center where area children could have fun.
Sitting for an interview at the recently opened Cottonwood Recreation Center, Garcia and Peterson said being in the new center was like a dream come true.
“We were so young when we first talked about it,” Peterson said. “To see this grow from the little seed we helped plant until now, when we’re getting ready to go off to college, seems like perfect timing.”
“I feel so inspired,” Garcia said. “It’s like we’re sitting in our dream.”
The commission advised council about the design of the center. The group suggested the climbing wall and helped select video games that allow youngsters to race on stationary bikes or show their moves on a lighted dance floor, Allen said.
Garcia said she was proudest of some of the special events the commission hosted during her tenure, including a Valentine’s Day dinner dance at Verde Valley Senior Center that was right on target for those who attended.
“A lady told me she hadn’t been out in the last five years,” Garcia said. “It’s incredible to know an event we planned could be so meaningful for someone.”
In addition to hosting dances, the commissioners held free movie nights and mentored other Cottonwood youngsters through their work with Boys & Girls Clubs of Northern Arizona. They hosted fundraisers to help pet owners cover the cost of spay and neutering their pets. They participated in the annual Relay For Life and sponsored the city’s summer youth camp.
Both commissioners said their time and experience with the city gave them a big advantage when they were looking for places to attend college.
Garcia, who plans to attend Santa Clara University on a full scholarship, said her credentials as commission president probably made the difference in her bid for the scholarship.
Peterson, who wants to pursue a career in medicine beginning at Grand Canyon University, said she’s ready for new challenges thanks to the experience she gained as a commissioner.
Neither said they planned to return to Cottonwood to live and work.
“But I’ll always a have little place in my heart for Cottonwood,” Peterson said. To volunteer for the youth commission, call Allen at 639-3200.
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