Volunteer teaches values to troubled youth

While working with troubled youth as a volunteer with the Clark County Superior Court No. 1 in Indiana, Sharyn Dietrich concluded that the teen-age girls' lives were lacking proper values.

So Sister Dietrich of the Jeffersonville Ward, New Albany Indiana Stake, turned to her experience as a Young Women leader in an effort to provide those values.To build the groundwork for her plan, she helped develop Camp Kite, a weeklong camp for girls referred by probation officers and courts.

"That camp is just the Young Women program," she said.

The values she tries to instill in the teens are: faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice and accountability, good works, and integrity.

Sister Dietrich has seen those Young Women Values change lives.

Her volunteer spirit has been noticed. She recently was named one of the winners of the 1993 Indiana Youth Investment Award presented by the Indiana Youth Institute.

"I love kids," Sister Dietrich said when asked why she has been willing to give so much of herself to serving others. "When you have an eternal perspective of the love of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, you just do it."

Much of her volunteer work has been with the Clark Superior Court No. 1. For 21/2 years she was the court's director of volunteer services and was a volunteer probation officer for juveniles before that.

But for 10 years, her pet volunteer project has been Camp Kite. She and other staff members spend time each summer with about 20 girls in the camp. The leaders are assisted by junior counselors, mostly young women from area wards along with some Camp Kite alumni.

Sister Dietrich said the program for helping girls at Camp Kite is simple.

"We love them unconditionally, and they know we love them unconditionally," she said. "For the first time in their lives they know somebody cares. They know they have personal worth."

Because Sister Dietrich uses material from the Young Women program in her volunteer service, she said she sought and received approval from Church leaders. She also received permission to use the program from Clark County Superior Court No. 1 Judge Clementine B. Barthold, once a Russian refugee who has a sister who is a member of the Church.

Not every girl Sister Dietrich works with turns out to be an immediate success story.

"I wish I could say they all live happily ever after, but they go back to the same environment that caused their problems in the first place," she said. "But maybe somewhere down the road, it will click in for them.

"Even though they've committed crimes, they're still children," she said. "They have needs that aren't being met and there is a lot we can't do for them. I just pray that if there is anything I can do to help them, the Lord will reveal it to me."

She enjoys a fulfilling life at home with the support of her husband, David, who is a member of the Jeffersonville Ward bishopric. They have four children and a grandchild. Sister Dietrich, who has served as stake Young Women president, is currently a Primary teacher, stake activities specialist and ward organist.

She readily encourages others to become involved in community service.

"There is a time and season for every person," she said. "They need to pray and find out where the Lord wants them to serve. They will receive blessings beyond belief."

She said community service is also a way to do missionary work. "The Lord will lead to you those who are ready to join. I have found that to be true over and over."

She has touched many people with her spirit. Sandy Gillenwater, who, as director of volunteers once supervised Sister Dietrich, was led into the Church because of their friendship.

"Sharyn has been so influential in my life," Sister Gillenwater said. "I will be eternally grateful because she never gave up on me. Sharyn is a great missionary because she leads through example. Her whole life is giving to others."

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