4-H members build life skills through spaghetti fundraiser

Jessica Spence
4-H member Jessica Gulvin serves spaghetti at the 2010 Spaghetti Supper Fundraiser at the Loyal Order of the Moose

For many years, the  Yates County 4-H program has been a recipient of the generosity of the Penn Yan Loyal Order of the Moose through a spaghetti supper fundraiser.  Not only does the spaghetti supper raise money that is essential to the 4-H program, supporting the trips and awards fund, but it also builds essential life skills, one of the foundations of 4-H.

How do I figure that working a spaghetti supper builds life skills?  I’d like to relate it to sports. Let’s take football for example.  In a football game, every player has a position, a spot that he is good at depending on his size, experience, and skills.  So do 4-H’ers working the spaghetti supper team!

The youngest, and smallest members do the beginning jobs – filling bread baskets, putting dressing on salads, and getting milk cartons.  As they get older and more experienced, you’ll find youth setting and clearing tables.  At 13 years old, youth can be servers, greeting guests, taking orders, and delivering spaghetti.  More experienced members who enjoy more challenges can become supervisors where they oversee the work of younger members.  Teen members can also take on additional challenges as mentors to younger members, helping them accomplish their duties.  Then as adults, club leaders and parents usually do the dirtiest and very important jobs like washing pots, scooping spaghetti in the hot kitchen, and taking out the trash.

These spaghetti supper assignments describe the grassroots of 4-H, building upon learned skills.  4-H is about growth and exploration, allowing youth to try new things in an environment that is supportive and comfortable.  The spaghetti supper provides elements proven to help young people become healthy, problem-solving, constructive adults including relationships with caring adults, safe environments (both physically and emotionally), opportunities for mastery, opportunities to value and practice service for others, opportunities for self-determination, and an inclusive environment (encouraging, affirming, and belonging).  

The spaghetti supper is a chance to practice the meaning of the 4-H pledge:

• 4-H members pledge their heads to clearer thinking because the ability to think, to plan and to reason enables them to achieve independence of thought and action.

• 4-H members pledge their hearts to greater loyalty because feeling connected to others in a group creates a sense of physical and emotional safety. The warm feeling of belonging frees them to relate comfortably with others, to test their ideas without fear of ridicule, to cooperate and help others.

• 4-H members pledge their hands to larger service because they need to feel that their lives have meaning and purpose. Using skills they have learned to help others meets that need while developing a spirit of generosity.

• 4-H members pledge their health to better living because their ability to achieve their goals and enjoy their lives depends on having healthy minds and bodies. Successes achieved through 4-H project work build a sense of mastery that in turn nurtures a positive self-concept, the prime ingredient of emotional health.

Just like in football, when all of the positions are filled with high quality players all of the pieces fall together for a great game!  Come and support the Yates County 4-H team at our annual spaghetti supper fundraiser at the Loyal Order of the Moose on Thursday, Feb. 24 from 5 to 7 p.m. and see the 4-H’ers in action!  Tickets are $6/adult and $3/youth and can be purchased at the door, but presale is preferred and can be purchased at the 4-H office, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Yates County, 417 Liberty St., Penn Yan.

If you have any questions about the spaghetti supper, or to find out how you can become involved in 4-H, please call Cornell Cooperative Extension at 315-536-5123 or visit http://counties.cce.cornell.edu/yates/4H/4hindex.htm

4-H member Genna (left) and 4-H club leader Leslie Elliott prepare salads at the 2010 Spaghetti Supper Fundraiser at the Loyal Order of the Moose.