CLARE – As a youth therapist, Lynette Spencer found children living in poverty experience not only a poverty of finances, but a poverty of experiences.
Four years ago, Spencer, a DeKalb native, did something about it. She and Lesly Wicks, executive director of Hope Haven, founded Adventure Works, a unique program that engages youth by providing intensive group therapy through outdoor activities like canoeing, rock climbing, archery and wilderness skills.
"Most of our kids are living in poverty or are homeless, and they have never seen the world outside their three-block radius," Adventure Works spokesperson Kim Hinzy said.
Hinzy said the children's reaction to the sessions is a far cry from the way many felt about traditional talk therapy in a counselor's office.
"The biggest feedback we get from parents is, 'My kids look forward to coming every week,'" Hinzy said. "They see an immediate change in their child's self-esteem and ability to cope."
After four years of building the program, Adventure Works will host its first fundraiser on Saturday, June 28. Barn-B-Que will be held from 6:30 until 10 p.m. at the barn of Pearcy Grain Services, 1649 Route 64 in Clare, at the corner of Route 64 and Clare Road.
Hinzy said the event will be a chance to "grill, gaze and fundraise." Meals will be grilled on-site by Inboden's, and there will be live music by local band The Dreadnoughts. There will be a cash bar, and the event is adults-only, Hinzy said. Adventure Works staff will offer demonstrations of some of the activities they use to engage youth at adventure sessions.
"We're not the country club set. We wanted to be outdoors," Hinzy said. "People will have the opportunity to shoot a bow and arrow if they want, or you can just sit around a campfire under the stars and listen to music."
Tickets are $40, which includes dinner and two drink tickets. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 815-77-8990 or visit www.adventureworksdekalb.org.