Community service and fun are on the agenda ◆ By Mike Hiles
It's a new year for the Soboba Youth Council to meet and plan its events for the upcoming session that mirrors the academic school year in San Jacinto. Several members were at a recent meeting that was called to discuss involvement in the upcoming Noli Homecoming Parade and Haunted House exhibit at Soboba Parks and Recreation's annual Halloween Carnival.
Normally meeting on the first Tuesday of each month at the Soboba Sports Complex, the youth meet additional times to organize community service opportunities. Coordinators Jennifer Garcia and Ricardo Macias helped facilitate the meeting that included suggestions for upcoming fundraisers and events that will help bring awareness to the community about the youth council. Steve Lopez, sports coordinator for the center, also helped guide youth into making decisions on how they can get involved.
"One of our responsibilities at the Halloween Carnival will be the Haunted House at The Oaks," Macias told the group. "Next week we will meet up there and see what the layout looks like."
Youth were asked to donate a bag of candy that could be handed out at the carnival and one to be used for the Soboba Tribal Preschool's Trunk-or-Treat event on Halloween. Even though it will be held while the youth are in school, Macias said the festively decorated van will include a banner so everyone knows it represents the youth council.
The same will be true for the float entered in the Noli Indian School homecoming parade on Oct. 26. A fall theme of haybales and pumpkins will fill the flat-bed truck that will also include the youth council's banner to increase awareness.
Primary objectives of the organization include providing leadership training and positive activities for youth, maintaining tribal culture and traditions, enhancing skills in the community and networking and understanding tribal government's function and responsibility.
Lynnae Rhodes, 17, is beginning her fourth year on the Soboba Youth Council and serving as its president this year. She presides at all membership meetings and events.
Vice president Tehya Marcus, 17, supports and assists the president at all meetings and events. As secretary, 14-year-old Tanya Rivera records all the council's formal actions and transactions. She takes minutes at meetings that are held in accordance with Robert's Rules of Order.
Shyla Marcus, 15, is treasurer during her first year serving on council. Members-at-large include Joshua Lara, 16 and Sica Rivera, 13. Their role is to be the voice of the members but to also fill in if positions of secretary and/or treasurer are vacated for any reason. Others who attended the meeting on Oct. 11 were Noel Alvarez, 16, Tot Briones, 14, and John Briones, 14.
Only an enrolled tribal member of the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians can hold a position on the youth council but community members of any Native American descent can partake in meetings and events if they are a resident of the Soboba Indian Reservation.
According to the organization's bylaws, attendance is mandatory for all major events that are arranged by and for the youth council. However, they are encouraged to invite friends to volunteer as well. Looking ahead, sign-ups were being taken to help with the annual Toy Drive at the casino which will take place on Nov. 12, 19, 26 and Dec. 3 this year.
"The more we put ourselves out into the community, the more positive responses we will get," Garcia told the teens. Macias added that always conducting themselves in a respectful manner will also reflect positively on the tribe.
The group seemed enthusiastic and energetic about making this year the best one yet.
Many youth council members actively participate in the Parks and Recreation Department's Youth Volunteer Program where they can earn credits/points, represented by paper (pretend) money that can be "spent" to purchase items of interest to young people. Most recently, those who volunteer 11.5 hours before Oct. 18 could redeem their earnings for a ticket to Knott's Scary Farm.