By Nichole Meloche
Mike Allen and Mark Todisco witnessed students who needed help outside of the traditional school setting and brought a program to Plainfield to do something about it.
Following the success of a similar program in Westfield, under the guidance of their mayor Andy Cook and the support of the Plainfield Town Council and school board, the pair founded the Plainfield Youth Assistance Program in 2017. Todisco now serves as board president.
PYAP serves children ages 3-17. The program provides assistance for children who may be struggling with their academics or their behavior.
“As the director, I am most proud of the hard work our kids, youth and families do,” said Staci Hovermale. “The parents are amazing and allow PYAP in and trust us to walk alongside them in some of their most difficult times.
“It’s truly a blessing to be a part of an organization that takes the county, Town of Plainfield, Plainfield schools, other nonprofits, churches, businesses, volunteers, anyone and everyone to help our students realize their potential.”
PYAP offers counseling and family support, tutoring in every school subject as well as mental health and therapeutic sessions. The athletic programs encourage students to socialize and form new friendships.
“PYAP is a program of staff, volunteers and collaborative agencies that utilize a holistic process to bring together local resources and provide support, enrichment and unique opportunities for youth and their parents and caregivers,” said Hovermale.
In February 2021, PYAP started accepting referrals. By the end that year, they grew to 55 students. In 2022, PYAP assisted 157 students who can participate in The Optimist Club, Strides to Success, Unbreakable Athletics, Art on Main, Plainfield Karate, Hendricks County 4-H and the Imagination Lab and school break camps.
“Since our involvement with PYAP, our boys have had a mentor that they can turn to for help,” one parent said, remaining anonymous for privacy protection. They have been involved with a reading club over the summer where they were encouraged to read new books and talk about them. They have been involved in fall baseball where they have made new friends, learned new skills and learned to feel better about themselves. We are very thankful to have been referred to PYAP.”
Approximately 7 million children ages 3-17 struggle with anxiety and depression, according to the CDC. This can lead to behavioral and academic struggles. Sometimes those children need support outside of the classroom.
“PYAP has been the biggest blessing to my family life,” one parent said about the program’s success. “My daughter was getting into trouble at school, so the school counselor referred me to PYAP. It has been the best experience for my daughter. She has overcome a lot of mental issues because PYAP put her in programs to help her. Her grades have gone up drastically, and she has become very sociable.”
Hendricks County juvenile court Judge Karen Love supports PYAP and created a statute that placed the program under supervision of the juvenile court. This statute was pivotal in helping children that had been experiencing behavioral issues.
Sometimes the organization’s mentors become friends who are like family.
“Our advocate has been the best blessing to my family life,” one mom said. “She assisted me in getting Christmas presents for my family. She has been very supportive of asking me how immigration is going for my husband. My daughters and I have been battling a lot with me being a single mother and my husband being overseas, so with PYAP becoming a part of our lives they feel like family. They have been nothing but very supportive.”
Plainfield Youth Assistance Program
Receive referral: Children and families can be referred by Plainfield Community schools counselors or teachers or through the website.
Contact: Director Staci Hovermale, Staci@plainfieldyouthassistance.org; (765) 577-0987