Cottrel: New Carlisle organization does amazing work for families

At a time when we are half afraid to check the local news, there are some very special people in this community who are the silver linings around the dark clouds that occasionally come through. They are the ones making a difference and giving us all hope for the future.

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Over the years I’ve tried to point out these positive forces in the community. I find it really encouraging that just when I think I’ve written about all the good people, I find another group of folks who are even more enthused to work for good.

That is how it was a few weeks ago when I was invited to sit in on a combined board and staff meeting at FYI. After 15 minutes of listening to their projects and plans, I felt that I needed to give up my chair at the table and stand by the door. I was not worthy to sit with such talented, unselfish, giving human beings.

If you are as unaware as I was, let me fill you in on the amazing organization called Family and Youth Initiatives or FYI.

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New Carlisle Resident Pat Banaszak was the co-founder of this organization nearly 40 years ago when it began to help teenage mothers. She and Carol Tipton started Tri-county Women’s Network in 1978 and it grew rapidly.

In 1993, in response to rapidly expanding diversifying needs, the organization became Family and Youth Initiatives or FYI. This gave the staff the platform they needed to respond to myriad related issues involving education, mentoring, and more.

I did not add “and more” lightly to the end of that sentence. The list is indeed long and each project is a well thought out, creative response to a need.

Their efforts truly do support their mission statement; Educate Families. Strengthen Communities.

On the FYI website they have clear statement of philosophy. I would do it an injustice to try to put it in my own words. So here it is.

“FYI provides educational programs that empower individuals to make healthy long-term life decisions. Each program is administered with respect and compassion for every person we encounter; from the unborn to adults taking steps toward a more promising future.”

The FYI headquarters is located at 468 North Dayton Lakeview Road just south of the New Carlisle Sports and Fitness Center. It is a welcoming place with desks for doing business, and comfortable spots for privacy and counseling. I felt right at home when I walked in. I had the feeling that this was an organization that welcomed folks in like a next door neighbor might invite one in for coffee. The place seemed to say that the FYI staff and family wants to help folks sort out what is going on in their life and give them the power to succeed. We can do this together seemed to be the theme. I loved it.

One of their big projects is the “earn-while-you-learn program” which offered “families a way to earn daily necessities, such as diapers, formula and baby food for free.” It is empowering and an inspiring way to help.

Seriously I wish everyone could just check out their website at If FYI is new to you, please at least tour the website and learn what a treasure this organization is. There are so many ways, big and small to get involved. And if you know someone who needs FYI’s assistance, please let them know about it.

The biographies of the staff and board members impressed me to no end. Wonderful things have to happen when so much talent, compassion, faith, and understanding work together in one place to achieve many goals.

FYI is dynamic. It does not have one focus or outreach; it has many. However, the FYI Safety Day is the finale of many months of work of various projects.

The sixth annual Tecumseh Safety Day will be held at Tecumseh Schools from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 8. FYI spearheads this amazing day that provides fun activities and information to local residents of all ages.

There will be lots of informational booths and people to meet. Tecumseh refreshment stands will be open for business. Law enforcement and firefighters will have some friendly competitions. The mobile mammogram unit will be there. Nearly 200 bikes will be presented to area foster children and firefighters will fit them with helmets.

“I’d like to thank the community for all their support especially in the bike give away,” said Banaszak, Executive Director of FYI, who compares the team of volunteers who repaired the used bicycles to “Angels.” She believes that they couldn’t reach as many people as they do without God’s help.

The bike giveaway has been titled Dominic’s Legacy in honor of an FYI teen volunteer who passed away recently.

I could go on and on but I think you all get the point. Instead of complaining about the bad news, we all need to do something about it like FYI is doing. We each need to ask ourselves what we have done to make this community better. There are so many ways to volunteer, support, and donate. FYI is just one of the worthy organizations that make a difference in our community.

Find a way to help your community and do it.

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