Six students, ages 17 and 18, will be coming to western Wake county soon to spend a month learning how to cope in the unstructured "real" world outside of high school. These students, all boys, have spent the last several years of their lives in the tightly regimented Lake Waccamaw Boys and Girls Home located midway between Wilmington and Lumberton, North Carolina. The Home provides a refuge for at-risk children who are victims of abuse and neglect at home. Upon reaching 18, though, they must become independent and live on their own.
The world we view as "normal" may be worlds removed from anything these children may have experienced in their formative years. How to dress properly, how to act in a restaurant, or how to interact in an unstructured social environment are all skills outside of their experience to this point. This is where the Rotary Summer Enrichment Program comes into play.
Young adults who have lived their whole lives in hand-me-down or donated clothes may have no idea of what size they wear or of what constitutes proper business dress. They are taken to a clothing store and fitted for their first real suit. They get a properly fitting dress shirt, and are taught how to tie a tie. They get a pair of leather shoes that are not sneakers, sandals or boots.
They will be taken to Prestonwood Country Club as guests of the local Rotary club. The staff will teach them the basic rules of dining etiquette, and explain the basic rules of behavior that will help them feel comfortable in such an environment.
The students will also be taken to the Devils Ridge Golf Club, courtesy of the Holly Springs Rotary Club, where the club pro, Raymond Reyes, will explain the rules of the game, the function of the different clubs, and proper course etiquette. The boys will get the opportunity to hit a bucket of balls on the driving range and practice some putting on the putting green. These skills will help them to associate more easily with people who are already successful in good, well-paying jobs.
The Holly Springs Rotary also plans to take the students to a Town Board meeting where they can observe first hand how local government business is conducted.
They will visit Wake County District Court and the Raleigh city jail, and will receive pointers on how to stay out of both of these places.
They will spend time at a local bank where they will learn how to open a checking account and how to balance their account.
They will visit with local families to learn how these families live, where they work, how they progressed in their careers and what constitutes ordinary life in the community. That which we take for granted will be a wholly new experience for most of these students.
The Holly Springs Rotary Club enthusiastically supports this endeavor, and at the May 9th club meeting presented Owen Robinson with a $1,000 donation from funds raised at the recent Rotary Golf Classic.