The Liberty Chamber of Commerce looks to keep young adults thriving in the community with the Young Adult Liberty Leaders (YALL) program.
Entering its 14th year, the YALL program will begin its next class on Sept. 27.
The applicants go through an interview and are scored based on their responses. The applicants with the highest average scores are chosen for the program.
“We had 55 applicants, and had to bring that down to 26 to interview,” Chief Executive Officer Leah Poole said. “We will be choosing 17 this year.”
During a county wide retreat around 14 years ago, one of the top three issues discussed was youth here in Liberty County.
“There were a lot of complaints about the youth not having anything to do,” Poole said.
The Liberty County Health Department, City of Hinesville, Liberty County Board of Commissioners along with the LCCOC all came together to create the YALL program at no cost to students or parents.
Once the Liberty County Health Department lost their adolescent health funding, the LCCOC took over YALL to keep the program going.
The program is volunteer based and sponsor dollars help the program and graduation remain at no cost to students or their families.
“This is the junior version of the adult program, and we’ve been able to maintain our adult program and youth program,” Poole said.
Only open to high school juniors and seniors, the seven month program begins in September and ends in May. During the program the young adults experience the various functions on the community, including meeting the mayor and sitting in his chair, and dressing up in scrubs and going to the ER.
YALL has a dress code to show what is required when the students become part of the workforce and requires six hours of community service to be completed during the program.
At the graduation the students get a plaque that can be used for college applications or use it as an accolade when applying for jobs.
“Many graduates keep in touch,” Poole said. “We want them to go to college then come home and want them to come and have pride in the in the community like we do.”
First Vice President of Heritage Bank, Willa Lewis, is one of the volunteers for the YALL program.
“The rewarding part of being a volunteer of this program is seeing their growth,” Lewis said. “You can have an introverted person and by the end of the program they have become the most vocal, the program definitely benefits us as a community.”