2017-01-22 / Insight

Youth on Main Street making difference in Almont

BY PHIL FOLEY
810-452-2616 •


Every Spring YOMS volunteers sweep sidewalks and parking lots, spruce-up park benches and pick up trash in Almont’s downtown area. Almont Downtown Development Authority Chairman Terry Roach brings more stain to YOMS members McKayla Marcola and John Bourque during the 2014 Almont Clean Up Day. 
Photo by Phil Foley Every Spring YOMS volunteers sweep sidewalks and parking lots, spruce-up park benches and pick up trash in Almont’s downtown area. Almont Downtown Development Authority Chairman Terry Roach brings more stain to YOMS members McKayla Marcola and John Bourque during the 2014 Almont Clean Up Day. Photo by Phil Foley ALMONT — Ask anyone active in community involvement from Rotary to Junior League, from the League of Women Voters to Ducks Unlimited and they’ll tell you the same thing. Their biggest challenge is getting young people involved.

That’s why Nancy Boxey, then director of the Almont Downtown Development Authority, came up with the idea of Youth On Main Street (YOMS) in the summer of 2013 to help start grooming the village’s next generation of community activists.

Boxey recruited a small group of Almont students from the National Honor Society, Student Council, area church youth groups as well as simply students looking to get involved in their community. Four years later, the group remains small, but it’s active.


YOMS members encourage Almont’s younger citizens set to get involved in community efforts. Dexton Gray, an Almont Middle School fifth grader, was one of seven kids and two adults who helped out with the Almont Clean Up Day in 2014. “This is more fun than sitting around doing nothing,” he said while sweeping Fountain Park at the corner of Main and St. Clair streets. 
Photo by Phil Foley YOMS members encourage Almont’s younger citizens set to get involved in community efforts. Dexton Gray, an Almont Middle School fifth grader, was one of seven kids and two adults who helped out with the Almont Clean Up Day in 2014. “This is more fun than sitting around doing nothing,” he said while sweeping Fountain Park at the corner of Main and St. Clair streets. Photo by Phil Foley Despite a long-term weather forecast predicting temperatures in the mid- 30s for the end of the month, the current crop of YOMS members is busily planning for the group’s fourth Polar Palooza. After three years next to the old Almont Elementary School, they’re moving their event to the Almont Community Park, 290 Water St.

Kim Schall, who recently took over as Almont’s DDA director, said YOMS members act as ambassadors in promoting historic preservation and downtown revitalization to area schools and youth organization in the community.

Along with organizing the Polar Palooza, YOMS members hold an annual spring clean-up in Almont and volunteer for the Holly Days Parade. YOMS membership promotes teamwork and respect for the rights and property of others as well as community pride and eliminates potential negative influences among the future leaders of the community.

This year’s YOMS group is a little smaller than it’s been the past couple of years. “We lost a lot of seniors,” Victoria Salazar said.

While the club has averaged 11 to 15 members, it’s at the low end of that this year. “It’s a small school,” Olivia Bussome said. The Almont High School senior added, “There’s a lot of things going on, so you see a lot of the same people.”

Dakota LaHaie echoed the sentiments of most of the people around the table at the Almont Village Hall. “I like making a difference in the community.”

While they all said they had a lot of demands on their time, Taylor Nanni said, “I thought it would be fun.”

Schall said she normally meets with the kids once a week after school.

At this year’s Holly Days Parade, YOMS members ran the crafts area at the Almont Historical Society. “I really like helping people and playing with little kids,” Salazar said.

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