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December 03, 2016
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YEG—the little group that could

These young entrepreneurs—Rose Fontana, left/front row, Erika Perrilla, Liz Grese, Shivani Patel, with Taylor Mcormack, left/back row, Alex Rokicki and Mae Bonnaci—are learning first hand about how to make a product and run a business.
TRR photo by Linda Drollinger

Mentored by two RMM teaching professionals, Jillian Rahm and Katia Chapman, and two Sullivan County Community College interns, YEG members learn life skills, nurture design inspiration, hone their crafts and develop exemplary sales, marketing, advertising and accounting practices while generating income for YEG and receiving a salary for their work. There are also frequent opportunities for instruction from notable guest artists, social activists and successful business people. And, to counter the isolation and scarcity of rural life, there are regular trips to urban centers like New York City and Boston. At least two trips to New York City are planned for later this month, one to scout new trends in style and design and one to attend the year’s largest RMM fundraiser—a dinner at Riverside Church on April 25. A five-day trip to Boston is planned as the end-of-year trip.

But, for all of its successes, YEG faces continuing challenges. Its foremost current challenge is lack of usable space. For the whole of its existence, YEG has been renting meeting room and studio space from First Presbyterian Church. The two rooms are barely large enough to support present YEG activities; in fact, during the warm months, most craft work is performed on the church lawn. Through a stroke of luck, a sound Liberty storefront building has been identified as a property ideal for YEG’s permanent housing. The purchase of this property would benefit Main Street Liberty merchants and permit YEG to expand its outreach. Although the parties involved in the prospective transaction concede that it’s a good deal all around, YEG must be creative to find adequate funding. For now, it remains on the drawing board.

For more information about YEG and RMM, or to register for the fundraising dinner at Riverside Church on April 25, visit www.ruralmigrantministry.org. To order Basement Bags, see www.ruralmigrantministry.org/youtheconomicgroup.html.