I met Bill Dyke a few years ago when he gave me a call at Family Services to discuss one of my newspaper columns. He would do that from time to time, further discussing the issues raised in the columns, sometimes bringing out another side to an issue that I missed, and other times just a quick call to tell me "right on." Other times he'd stop by the office on his errands around North Warren and leave a short note about his hopes and dreams for young people. I always appreciated his insight.
Bill wanted the best for kids and families. It always impressed me how he went about approaching youth issues. He never framed youth themselves as the problem, as so many people are apt to do. He understood that when adults criticize young people, they are really criticizing themselves, because young people are a product of the environment we've created. We all "own" the problems around us-and have a role to play in solving them, too.
Our community lost a big advocate for youth and families when Bill passed away at the end of October. The last few years he had been working on a plan to improve the health and well-being of families in the future by teaching youth vital skills and values right now. He shared it with Gary Lester and I over bagels one Saturday morning. It was a big, sprawling audacious vision. To be honest, it was such a huge plan that it was kind of hard for me to see how one could ever get the funding and buy-in of key players to see it come to complete fruition.
Yet Aren't some big, sprawling audacious dreams just what we need these days? The status quo doesn't seem to be doing anyone much good these days. So much of what we take for granted-the institutions that provide aid and the organizations that enrich our lives-exist because someone had a dream of something better and worked tirelessly to bring it about. And isn't that quality-something Bill Dyke personified-what makes this community great?
P.S. Speaking of conversations and dreaming of something better I am forming a regional peer network with the Institute for Youth Ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary. There is a lot of research and material these days relating to youth and faith formation that can be of great help to professional and lay youth workers, Sunday School teachers, and Christian educators. The regional peer network will assist in the vocational and personal development of participants. There is no cost to participate, but space is limited. If you may be interested in a group of this type, shoot me an e-mail at email@example.com or give me a call at 723-1330. Let's talk!
Ian Eastman, M.A., is a community educator with Family Services of Warren County-a charitable agency that helps people solve problems and be happier through counseling, substance abuse services, and support groups. Learn more about this important work at www.fswc.org.