News & Media

When it comes to giving back, youth will be served [editorial]

06/11/2018 Lancaster Online By THE LNP EDITORIAL BOARD

Want to know why Lancaster has been called “America’s refugee capital” for its welcoming environment?

It’s because we start ’em young in this county.

Take Clara Flinchbaugh and Nouraiz Leister Chaman. Kudos to these youngsters for caring about their neighbors and their community — and for setting a sterling example for the rest of us.

Josh McManness, community education supervisor for IU13, told LNP’s Earle Cornelius that the money Clara and Nouraiz raised for the Refugee Center and Community School will be used to pay for backpacks, welcome kits and cultural navigation, and school orientations.

Clara sold $1,203 worth of pins — with the inscription “Let all people be treated equally. Let all be loved” — through Facebook, at IU13 and at the Emerald Foundation.

It all began when her parents noticed that Clara had written that message in a notebook.

“We were struck by that,” her father, Chris, told LNP. “It was something she came up with on her own.”

Her mother, Megan, contacted designer David Ramsay, who created the pins for Clara, a student at Wharton Elementary School.

For his project, Nouraiz, who is home-schooled, sold signs in three languages that read, “No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor.”

He got started Jan. 21, 2017 — the day of the Women’s March — with coffee, cookies and 50 signs in the family yard.

Nouraiz’s mother, Jenni Leister, told Cornelius that people would stop in the evening to buy a sign; some even sent thank-you notes.

When the family realized the popularity of the signs, they contacted Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster and Bunyaad Rug Room at Ten Thousand Villages, where Leister works, to help with sales.

In total, more than 2,600 of his signs sold, raising $4,419.

And when you learn to give back at a young age, that stays with you as you get older — just ask Zarek Valentin.

“I’ve played this game against people I don’t speak the same language as, people from all different backgrounds and economic classes, and regardless, it brings people together,” Zarek told The Associated Press.

Zarek is a 2009 graduate of Manheim Township High School who starred at the University of Akron before being selected fourth overall in the 2011 Major League Soccer draft.

Members of the National Women’s Soccer League’s Portland Thorns joined Timbers’ representatives at the Social Change Cup futsal tournament.

(In case you’re wondering what futsal is, the U.S. Soccer website defines it “as a derivative of soccer ... played with five-man teams on a basketball-style court with no walls and a smaller, low-bouncing ball.”)

The Portland tournament was hosted by the local chapter of Street Soccer USA, a national nonprofit that looks at community-level ways to address poverty through soccer. The program is now in 15 cities and has helped some 15,000 kids and adults, AP reported.

The Social Change Cup included a “unity match” between young adults in the program and people from the community. Because he had played the night before with the Timbers, Zarek served as a coach.

He told AP, “... If we can share our love of the sport and accomplish some good things while doing so, there’s nothing better than that.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. And with children like Clara and Nouraiz and young adults like Zarek already doing what they can to make a difference, maybe we should think twice about stereotyping the youth of today as shallow and selfish — a trap into which many of us easily fall.

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