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When you hear that Young AmeriTowne has been in existence since 1990 or that it has reached more than 422,000 young people, it’s hard to fully comprehend the impact of the program. So, while working in AmeriTowne at Belmar last week, I was thrilled to witness first-hand what 26 years of AmeriTowne means–the program is now reaching a second generation of youth.
I met Jamie, a parent volunteer, before the school group arrived. She was particularly excited to be a volunteer because she had attended AmeriTowne herself as a fifth grader and had attended as a parent volunteer with her oldest son. Over 20 years after she first set foot in Town square, she still remembered her job: she was a Health Technician in the Medical Center. She told me, “Young AmeriTowne is amazing. I truly enjoyed my experience as a fifth grader years ago, and each time I come it gets better and better. These are life-long lessons and experiences here. I’m so proud to be a part of it!”
As soon as the student Warehouse crew arrived in their shop, I immediately picked out Jamie’s son Tristin. He had the same smile and contagious excitement about being in AmeriTowne as his mother. He was also an exceptionally hard worker, making sure that products were stocked quickly and accurately so that they could be delivered to the 16 other shops in AmeriTowne. Tristin had heard all about AmeriTowne from his mother and older brother, and couldn’t wait to participate himself. He said, “I’m very excited that my mom was able to come with me. My mom worked in the Medical Center when she came, and now she is a nurse.” I only wish I could jump ahead in time 20 years to see what the future holds for Tristin.
Remarkably, this story is not unique. More and more, when I introduce myself as working for the nonprofit that runs Young AmeriTowne, there is at least one adult who attended the program as a young person. As AmeriTowne continues to grow, we hope that more and more people will grow up having experienced this memorable program.