Q&A: Indian youth program slated to end
Debbie Lundy Painter, 33, works at the Carson Indian colony as the youth development specialist through California Indian Manpower Consortium’s youth opportunity program. The consortium is partially funded by the Department of Labor.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born and raised in Bridgeport, Calif. My family was originally from the “Yosemite Valley.” My great-grandmother was Maggie Howard (Tubuse), a renowned basket weaver.
How did you become the youth development specialist?
Two years ago, I applied for the clerical position for the youth opportunity program on the Carson Indian Colony. After a year and a half, the supervisor’s position became available, and I was offered the position, which I gladly accepted.
Give an example of how your position aids Washoe teens.
One of our local teenagers was failing academically and ready to drop out of school. She also had numerous run-ins with the law, gang activity and generally had a bad attitude. She came to us looking for answers. We hooked her up with academic counseling and mentorship. We then got her parents involved, and they now sit on our parent committee. After her involvement with the consortium, she is still in school, out of trouble and is currently an office holder for our youth advisory council.
What issues are you facing in this position?
The issues we’re facing in this position are budget cutbacks, understaffing (clerical), extremely long hours, the building we’re in doesn’t have a toilet or running water, and unless we get additional funding, the program will end in June 2005.
What challenges do Washoe teenagers face growing up today?
Washoe youth challenges are alcohol and drug abuse, high drop-out rates, lack of positive role models/parental support, prejudism, gangs, negative peer pressure and lack of traditional values.
What can the community do to support you?
Currently, the youth program has developed relationships with the Carson community. We are working with Pauline Kiser, executive director of the Community Council on Youth; Dan Neverette, dean of student services at Western Nevada Community College; Ron Norton, owner/operator of Computer Corps; Lynda Ghost Bear of Advocates to End Domestic Violence; and we are attempting to make contacts with the Boys & Girls Club of Western Nevada.
We’re lacking a proper facility. Funding examples include operational costs, salaries and community involvement.
We always invite the community to our functions/powwows, but rarely receive invitations to Carson community functions. We would love to have positive role models from the professional community in the Carson City/Gardnerville area.
The reason we would like this is because we’re partly funded by the Department of Labor, and labor means jobs and we need jobs for the youth who are turning into young adults.
What is a lesson you’ve learned or a poignant observation you’ve made about teens or the community in your position?
The observation I made about the youth in our community is: If you take a look at our past and present situations, or take a short drive on any of our Indian colonies, you can view abject poverty, rampant drug and alcohol abuse as well as vibrant youth who are absolutely idle with no direction or motivation.
With programs like the consortium, we can and must make a difference by letting the youth know we provide building blocks needed to increase the participants’ knowledge, skills and self-confidence and teach them there is a different way of life through sobriety, education and long-term employment.
If this programs ends in June, I can see this negative pattern continue.
If you think you can help our program in any way or would like more information regarding this article, please call me at 841-9441 or reach me by e-mail at DebbieP@cimcinc.com.