Every year, SRSLY celebrates the hard work of their dedicated volunteers by throwing a Volunteer Appreciation Party. The SRSLY coalitions in Chelsea, Dexter, Manchester, and Stockbridge came together at Pinckney State Park for this celebration on August 9. Thousands of t-shirts, slices of pizza, and hours of volunteer time have been put into SRSLY since it formed in 2008.
Anyone who has volunteered at least once in the past year is invited to the Volunteer Appreciation Party, which included swimming, lawn games, food, and an awards ceremony. SRSLY recognizes all contributions made by their volunteers, regardless of the number of hours put in. Every volunteer is awarded a certificate for their work and picks a lime-green prize.
Volunteers who have played a big role in SRSLY in the past year are recognized through special awards. These include Above and Beyond, for those who volunteer 20 hours or more in a year; Most Hours Volunteered; Most Activities Attended; New Members; and "Century Club," for those who have volunteered more than 100 hours with SRSLY. A few volunteers were even congratulated for having volunteered more than 500 hours in their years with SRSLY! Altogether, 531 SRSLY members volunteered 6,644 hours in the 2016-17 school year. Of this, Manchester has the honor of claiming 3654 of those volunteer hours and 244 volunteers. Way to bring it Manchester!
These volunteers, both youth and adults, are role models for other members of their communities and empower them to contribute positive changes. Volunteers help with SRSLY's fun, substance-free events such as the annual New Year's Eve Party, SRSLY Cinema outdoor movies, Haunted High School, The Variety Show, and fall Kickoff Rallies. They also devote hours to attending the coalition's regular meetings throughout the year, where they help plan and implement SRSLY's goals, strategies, and activities.
"SRSLY would not be here today without the passion and energy from our volunteers," said Regional SRSLY Coalition Director Reiley Curran. "It is the volunteers who put in their time to making our communities safer by showing up to countless coalition meetings, some of which take place in the evening or on weekends. It is the volunteers who are supportive of youth who want to make a difference in their community."
Since SRSLY was launched, more than 2,030 volunteers have donated more than 32,169 hours to preventing youth substance abuse in these four communities. The data shows that all of their hard work is making a difference. According to the Michigan Profile for Healthy Youth survey (MiPHY), which is administered every other year to measure youth substance use, only 13 percent of Chelsea High School students use alcohol regularly. That's down by more than a third since 2007. In Dexter, the MiPHY data shows 13 percent of high school students use marijuana regularly, down by more than a third since SRSLY was launched there in 2013. In Stockbridge, the average age of reported first use of alcohol is up to 14.5 from 13.8, while the percentage of youth who report having gotten drunk before the age of 13 is down, from 7.7 percent to 6.6 percent, according to the MiPHY survey. In Manchester data shows a decrease in high school students who have tried marijuana since SRSLY Manchester began in 2009, with 18% of MHS students reporting having tried marijuana in their lifetime in 2016 vs 29.4% in 2010. Research shows that the later kids start using drugs and alcohol, the less likely they are to struggle with addiction as adults.
What better way to finish off the Volunteer Appreciation Party than to eat lime-green frosted cupcakes and take a group photo while celebrating the achievements of volunteers? And with next year being the monumental 10 year anniversary of SRSLY, expect the Volunteer Appreciation Party to be at the next level.
Anyone interested in volunteering with SRSLY can find out how at an upcoming coalition meeting. To find your local meeting schedule, go to www.srslycoalition.org/where, select your community, and click on when + where.