Going into the new year, we're looking back at where we started 15 years ago, where we're at now, and where we're going in the future. We're grateful for what we've already accomplished, and filled with hope for everything ahead.
In 2008, our community came together to address youth substance use. Businesses, volunteers, Chelsea School District, the hospital, faith communities, and so many others partnered to prioritize the health of our kids. In 2021, we did it again. Only this time we added mental health so we could see the full picture of what our kids and teens are going through, and tackle it all together.
Now in 2023, we're reflecting on all we've achieved. And we're thanking you for your support, whether that was your time, your donation, or your willingness to share with others everything we're doing.
This year, we said goodbye to five seniors, and welcomed 40 new students. We shared resources with not only our community but other towns and counties as well. Students created campaigns, hosted mental health events, and saw the impact of their voice in our community.
What exactly did that entail? In May we provided a full month of Mental Health May resources, events and programming. In July we sold out our 3rd Annual Wheels N' Reels drive-up movie featuring Scooby-Doo with record attendance by families in our community! The entire event was staffed by our students, and every attendee received free concessions. In September we coordinated with MHAT to provide mental health trainings to our community members and developed multiple online and in-person campaigns.
In October our students handed out over 300 hoodies to their classmates, celebrated Homecoming with their community, continued the Happy Initiative, had resource tables at community partner events, hosted FREE teen-only event nights, and partnered with Chelsea Volleyball to host the 3rd Annual World Mental Health Night!
In November we produced our first-ever Coping Resource Roadmap and decorated for Hometown Holidays with a mental health light pole, where every passerby can take a custom ornament home for their own tree. And this month we wrapped things up with the launch of our Social Media Parent Education Campaign, hosted a holiday party for our students, and jumped head-first into 2024 planning for substance-free events, resource optimization, new partnerships and more campaigns!
In the past year, srsly students and alumni have shared the lifelong impact this coalition has on them. Charleye Perry, a 2022 CHS grad, shared:
“I joined srsly in 2021 because I wanted to serve the community and support those around me. I felt so passionate about the mission of the organization and I’d never been involved with something that felt so truly meant for me. After graduation, I stayed involved. However, I wanted to expand my horizons even more, but didn’t think there was any work similar to this program. One day, I found AmeriCorps, an organization filled with a plethora of different service opportunities. I’m on a path I never expected to be on, but srsly opened doors I didn’t even know existed.”
A few short months after joining AmeriCorps, we got another update from Charleye, letting us know she is already pursuing a certificate in Non-Profit Career Development through Texas A&M University. "I'm making a career out of something I thought was only a hobby, because of srsly".
And our 40 new students? They're not quite sure yet where srsly will lead them, but they want you to know it provides them with a space of unconditional support, nonjudgmental listening, leadership development, opportunities to create real change, and most of all, a place where they feel wanted as human beings. And for right now, that's exactly what they need.