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As summer slips away, West Volusia community advocates are actively planning for the upcoming school year.

Allison Bonilla, a psychotherapist and life coach, has a mentoring program in place that focuses on the social and emotional learning of our youth. 

Bonilla has had a private practice in West Volusia for more than 20 years, and can be found at Awareness Counseling Center in Orange City, working with clients to strengthen their homes and help them live productive and healthy lives.

{{tncms-inline alignment=”left” content=”&lt;p class=&quot;rteright&quot;&gt;Registration is now open for 2018-19. There is a $25 registration fee. Visit the website at&amp;nbsp;&lt;a class=&quot;ext&quot; href=&quot;http://www.acaringcommunity.com/&quot;&gt;www.acaringcommunity.com&lt;/a&gt;&amp;nbsp;for more information.&lt;/p&gt;” id=”694c29e4-a488-4d24-a4e6-b83d06c66845″ style-type=”info” title=”You can join ACTS” type=”relcontent” width=”half”}}

Bonilla is very community-involved and family-oriented. She started a speech club at University High School in Orange City, which is still an active club.

She found her passion for helping youth as a foster parent more than 30 years ago, and has maintained her interest in working with adolescents and preteens.

“We hold them accountable as adults, but their brain does not fully develop until age 25, which is unfair to them,” Bonilla said.

She runs a faith-based program, and is a firm believer that God’s Word has a lot of the answers people are often seeking.

“I have found that a lot of the teenagers just go with the flow because everyone is doing it. So many of our young people are unable to express their thoughts, feelings and beliefs. We live in a world that is promoting values that oppose them engaging,” Bonilla said. 

The ACTS (A Candle to Shine) mentoring program addresses these issues.

ACTS is a nonprofit organization founded in 2009, and each year it serves up to 15 young people ages 8-18. The intent is to have small groups that truly meet the needs of the participants. 

ACTS is not affiliated with any denomination, but is faith-based. Parental support is encouraged.

The youth have the opportunity to learn about themselves, celebrate their active voices, and volunteer at community events.

Bonilla has the assistance of other mentor volunteers, like Joy Baugh. Baugh works with the Boys & Girls Club weekly, and still gives of her time two Saturdays a month with ACTS. Her daughters participate in the program, as well.

“The ACTS program strengthens my teaching with my daughters, and has taught them to go deeper with God and apply His Word to their daily decisions,” Baugh said.

The following mentoring programs are also operating to help West Volusia youth: the CATALYST mentoring program, the Man Up mentoring program, and Sisters Build Networks for Girls Inc. 

To learn more about these, email this writer at contact@primrosecameron.com.

— Dr. Primrose Cameron lives in Orange City.

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