08/31/2008 05:00PM ● Published by Super Admin
“The common thread that motivates this community is its youth,” says Coordinator Raeann Jones. “Because of the rapid growth of El Dorado Hills in recent years, villages have not had the time to coalesce. People do not know their neighbors and do not always feel comfortable reaching out. We have greater diversity now and need to learn to work together for the greater good.”
Since its inception in 2003, the Coalition has partnered with decision makers representing 12 community “sectors” – business, health professionals, law enforcement, education, faith-based groups, service organizations and parents, among them – in a collaborative process for systematic change. According to Jones, involvement from these and other classifications provide an excellent paradigm for maximizing community input and accomplishment.
The inclusive organizational structure of the Vision Coalition – made up of operational staff, a Youth Advisory Committee, Executive Advisory Committee, and board of directors – provides all community sectors with a voice, encourages contribution and supports an equal division of responsibilities. Jones explains that a group forum allows Coalition members to focus on similarities rather than differences in a non-threatening environment, and says that new relationships are forged and partnerships are formed at every meeting. Without collusion between the parties, the Coalition’s aims would be noble, but not achievable.
The organization’s youth-centric mission is four-fold: to expand opportunities for youth that invite decision making; to increase school and social involvement; to coordinate the availability of youth-supporting resources and services; and to promote activities that keep young people healthy and free from drugs, alcohol and tobacco.
The Vision Coalition has played a key role in the development of several community projects, including the new Teen Center and Skate Park, and the Youth Transportation Van. It publishes a monthly newsletter, contributes to a weekly news column, and has helped make several videos and animated public service announcements for teens. In addition, the organization supports ongoing youth development training and peer-to-peer mentoring programs; hosts monthly birthday parties; tends a community garden for low-income youth; and has developed Project T.E.A.C.H. (Teens Educating Against Classroom Harassment) and the Parent Project – a 10-week adult-youth communication workshop. And somewhere in the middle of these efforts, the Coalition continues to sponsor a series of youth-centered health fairs, dances, concerts, raft trips teamwork and leadership training camps.
“Long time residents of El Dorado Hills embrace the growth in the area, yet desire to maintain a tight-knit community where we know, care about and support each other,” says Jones. As such, the Vision Coalition, largely funded by grants, also accepts donations.
Anyone is welcome to attend Coalition meetings. For times and locations, visit The Vision Coalition online at <a target="_blank" href="http://www.edhvisioncoalition.org">edhvisioncoalition.org</a> or call 916-643-4393.