For Miami Valley Today
TROY — There was so much holiday spirit filling the Troy Junior High School cafeteria Wednesday night that it was enough to bring a special visitor from the North Pole to town.
An appearance by Santa Claus was just one of the many highlights from The Future Begins Today’s annual Gingerbread House Night event. Troy students involved in The Future Begins Today Club program and their families had the opportunity to gather together to build gingerbread houses, listen to Christmas music, drink hot chocolate and enjoy time together Wednesday. Dozens of families filled the Troy Junior High School cafeteria.
“Holiday spirit in the room was at a high, no doubt because of the uninterrupted time that the children were getting to share with their families, and maybe just a little bit to do with the candy they are nibbling on as they built their family gingerbread creations,”
TFBT executive director Natalie Rohlfs said. “Students have been asking me about Gingerbread House Family Night since August!
“The smiles and laughter when they were working with their families and when Santa stopped in for a surprise visit seemed to make some cherished memories happen for them. I was really proud to hear how much the students have been listening and learning in their TFBT Club meetings. They shared with their parents the life skill they have been working on this past month, adaptability. Hearing it in their words makes me believe this could be something that each of us, even as adults, could incorporate a little more into our daily routines at work and at home. This was a great chance for families to slow down and fill an evening with collaboration, family time and listening to one another.”
The Gingerbread House Night event is approximately 16 years in the making. The Future Begins Today hosts four or five family events per year for TFBT Club families and the Gingerbread House Night remains insisted-upon staple, Rohlfs said. New last year was a contest to showcase good examples of family collaboration, teamwork and creative design work.
“It was refreshing to me to see all the little faces light up when Santa arrived,” said Melissa Stanley, former TFBT Club parent of four students and a TFBT volunteer. “That was such a good surprise. My kids have all grown now, but our family keeps coming back to this event to volunteer because when we were a family sitting out there experiencing this it meant so much to us. Now we get to see the joy in others. We used to cram into Forest’s cafeteria for this many years ago and now it’s grown into this big space! The kids love it.”
Rohlfs said the support from the community and Troy City Schools help make The Future Begins Today programs successful.
“Several donors and community members make this happen for our students,” she said. “Some people don’t realize how many supporters it takes to make a program like this possible. We’re glad so many people, companies and foundations care about our programs the way they do. This year’s donors and friends include: Paramount Advantage, Mayflower Performing Arts Center, Tim Hortons downtown Troy, Be You Boutique, Haren’s Market, Bakehouse Bread, Paul G. Duke Foundation, Winans downtown Troy, Troy Junior High School and the Concord third grade.”
The Future Begins Today Club Family Events are designed to bring families together for activities, education and an introduction to community resources, aside from their weekly club meetings, lessons and field trips. The Future Begins Today Club Club represents enrolled students who might benefit from temporary or ongoing intervention in order to find a path to their academic success.
The Future Begins Today Club is just one of the many programs that TFBT offers Troy students. The Future Begins Today is currently serving nearly 1,200 Troy students a year through all of its programs. The Future Begins Today provides nurturing, mentoring and scholarship programs for Troy students.