Regional Director’s Message
Is there an unwritten rule that older generations are supposed to talk trash about younger ones?
A lot is being written these days bemoaning our younger generation and the future of our society under their growing leadership and influence. The following are titles of several books and articles written in the past few years about young adults:
- Why is Narcissism Increasing Among Young Americans?
- Millennials: The Greatest Generation or the Most Narcissistic?
- Generation Me
- Millennial Workers: Entitled, Needy, Self-Centered?
- The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don ‘t Trust Anyone Under 30)
What I’m not quite sure of is if this negativity is worse than what my parents’ generation said about mine when I was younger or if it’s just par for the course for older generations to slam younger ones. Were there as many books and articles like the above 40-50 years ago? Does anyone besides me find it ironic that members of the same generation that, back in the 1960s, encouraged young people not to trust anyone over 30 are now encouraging people not to trust anyone under 30?
Allow me to go a little counter-culture here and state that my NPH experience with young adults has been nothing but positive.
Taylor Strong, Maeve Dowdle, Genna Power, and Annie Brennan (pictured to the right along with her Guatemalan-Viking friend) are in their late teens. All four of them will participate on a mission trip to NPH Guatemala in August….their third consecutive summer mission trip with us. I’ve been privileged to witness these awesome young women pour their hearts and souls into these trips. They are the polar opposite of the word narcissistic.
Sharon Holdvogt teaches Middle School English and Social Studies in Chicago. She is also the Chair of the Midwest Region Young Professionals Board. She sponsors two pequeños from NPH Guatemala, where she lived as a volunteer for two years after graduating from college. While at NPH Guatemala, Sharon founded the Chicas Poderosas (Powerful Girls) program. The program has since expanded to several other NPH homes. Chicas Poderosas helps girls and young women build self-esteem and gives them a safe place to talk, share, and learn.
The NPH USA Young Professionals Board (YPB) that Sharon leads supports the children of NPH through networking, fundraising, and sponsorship efforts. The YPB holds fundraising events such as Trivia Night, Pints and Pizza for Pequeños, and the annual After Dark Party held in conjunction with the NPH USA Gala. When groups of touring pequeños from NPH homes come through Chicago on their annual fundraising and awareness raising tours, members of the YPB will take them out for a bowling night or to do other activities like carving jack-o-lanterns with them. The next YPB event is the 2nd Annual Trivia Night on June 7th (an article about this event appears elsewhere in this newsletter).
Is it fair to paint Sharon (pictured to the right in the lower right hand corner) and her fellow YPB members with the same brush that characterizes people their age as self-absorbed and stupefied by technology? I think not.
Melissa Hoyt, Gaby Driessen, Kate Huff, Katie Sommer, Betsy Grace, and Kelly Farley belong to a generation that, in my opinion, is unfairly typecast as being self-centered and lazy. All of them are former members of the NPH USA Midwest Region staff, and all of them are among the most others-centered and hardest working people I have ever known.
I should also point out that my positive experience with young adults is most definitely not limited to Americans. Throughout our NPH homes, I have been super impressed with the work ethics and sense of altruism of many former pequeños and current pequeños like Billy Jean, Alejandra, Gustavo, Digyana, Juan Bautista, and Versy. I am so proud to be associated with these sons and daughters of Father Wasson! I am convinced they will do well not only for themselves, but they will also do well for others by lifting up their communities through their productivity, altruism, and leadership.
Can it be that all these young adults are outliers in a society that is supposedly filled with young narcissists? Or are these supposed outliers actually the norm and we are being conditioned into thinking that they are not? If I wrote a book about my positive experiences with young people, would it sell? If I wrote an upbeat article or op-ed piece about all the good I have seen in my seven years of working with children and young adults here at NPH, would it be too positive to be published?
Most of you receiving this newsletter are likely from my generation (baby boomers) and older. How does all this apply to you? First, and perhaps most importantly, you should take heart. You should be encouraged that there are many young people in our world who are truly altruistic and are making a big impact with their altruism. Secondly, you can point in our direction like-minded young people (children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, fellow employees, etc.) who you know. We are always on the lookout to engage more young people in our mission.
Take our Young Professionals Board, for instance. YPB members are between the ages of 21 and 35 and have a passion to work and fundraise for the children of NPH. The YPB is a great way for altruistic minded young adults to connect with NPH. If someone you know might be interested in joining the YPB, he or she should contact Sharon Holdvogt, Chair of the Young Professionals Board, at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
Perhaps you know a young (or not-so-young) person who would enjoy experiencing the NPH mission up close and personal on one of our trips. This summer, the Midwest Region will be running mission trips to our NPH homes in Nicaragua (June 22-29) and Guatemala (August 2-8). More information about those trips can be found on the travel page of the NPH USA website.
Take heart. Be encouraged. The future is bright.
All the best,
Midwest Region Director