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Warm Springs youth making a difference on the reservation


On a cool autumn morning, an energetic group of youth assemble at the Warm Springs Indian Reservation skate park, ready to put in hard work to serve their community.

On this particular day, youth AmeriCorps members from Heart of Oregon Corps’ YouthBuild program are beautifying parks on the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation for Make a Difference Day. It is one of the largest annual single days of service, where people come together to improve their local communities.

“It feels great to do hands-on work in the lands where I grew up,” says Kris Howtopat, a YouthBuild student from Warm Springs.

Many of the students who are part of the HOCYB program live on the reservation and are making a direct impact near their homes.

In addition to improving areas in the skate park, students will be performing landscaping and clean-up of the Elmer Quinn Recreation Area, the trail along Shitike Creek, Community Ballfields, High Lookee Lodge, the Agency Longhouse, and parking areas around the Tribal administration building.

The mission of Heart of Oregon Corps is to inspire and empower positive change in the lives of young people through jobs, education, and stewardship. HOC achieves this by leveraging partnerships across Central Oregon to create opportunities for local disadvantaged youth of all ability levels, ages 16-24. Youth gain an education while simultaneously serving their community, which is exactly what’s happening during Make a Difference Day.

“This time of year, local utility crews are overbooked and unable to perform the work. That’s when HOCYB stepped up and decided to improve lands in the Warm Springs community, with the goal to make parks more of a family atmosphere,” said Butch David, a Native American liaison who will be mentoring and assisting the youth during Wednesday’s service day project. “Seeing our students working in the communities that they are from is wonderful to see.”

The HOCYB Make a Difference Service Day will take place at the crossroads between N Hollywood Blvd and E Tenino Road in Warm Springs on Wednesday, October 25 from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm

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