Community "Bridging the Gap" for 13th year
About 200 people came to the 13th annual Bridging the Gap dinner Saturday to celebrate food, faith and family.
This year's focus was on the community's youth. The theme "Can you hear what we are saying?" was the question that adults and youth asked each other.
Event organizer Dr. Ella Hood introduced members of the Monroe Youth Council who emceed the dinner. Youth Council members explained how important it is for the youth to have a voice in their community. Though they have not started careers or families, teenagers see problems and potential solutions, but they feel they are not taken seriously because of their age.
"That's what frustrates most young people, because they are people" Youth Council member McCain Kerr said.
Hood's grandson, Demaria Covington, spoke about what makes a good leader. He read Bible verses about wise leaders who sought out God's council on how to lead people. They asked for wisdom and prayed for guidance.
"I took everything I learned and wrote my own definition of a being a good leader," Covington said. "Good leaders are kind, goodhearted, they're patient and they know when to say enough is enough. They know how to say no respectfully."
Lots of people are leaders without realizing it, he said. Little kids emulate older kids. Covington said he hopes he was able to give the kids in his church and school an example of someone who was wise and asked God for guidance.
Monroe native and N.C. State University graduate Marcello Davis said he grew up around a lot of peer pressure to be a certain way, and got picked on a lot because he was quiet and obedient. But being that way allowed him the success he experienced as a young adult.
"You have to realize that you don't get picked on in college for the things you were picked on for in high school," Davis said. "And the things you're picked on in college you won't get pick on for in the workplace."
District Court Judge Hunt Gwyn spoke about the value of a good name.
"You're born with a good name," Gwyn said. "If you ruin your reputation, it takes a long time and a lot of work to get your good name back."
Every day in court, Gwyn said he sees young people who made friends with the wrong crowd of kids. Some go along with their friends' behavior until they get into trouble, and realize too late they made the wrong decisions.
"You'll be standing up there alone," Gwyn said. "The people you thought were your friends will be at home, playing video games and laughing at you for getting caught."
Those types of friends were never friends to begin with, he said.
Local attorney Tiffany Wilson said most youth feel their parents do not listen to them. But Wilson argued that the new age of smart phones, the internet, social media and other developing technology, children are not listening to the adults.
She reminded the youth that their young age allowed them to misbehave without serious complications. But there comes a time when schoolyard fights are considered criminal assault. Taking things that are not yours is stealing, not something a cute little kid does. Snapping girl's bra straps or putting hands where they do not belong is no longer horseplay, but sexual assault.
"We understand you want your swag," Wilson said. "But your actions right now can have a huge effect on your life for years to come."