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As a Younger Youth Participant associated with the WIA program in Saline County, Candace Baker has been employed as a Receptionist and Tour Guide by Bishop Park since May of 2013. Bishop Park is located in Bryant, Arkansas, and is a multipurpose community center which is open to the public. Around the center you may find Candace answering phones, setting up rooms for upcoming events, putting together information packets, greeting guests or showing prospective members around the indoor walking track, the aerobics room, the junior Olympic length pool, the heated therapy pool, the splash pad, the Cyvex equipped weight room and the 3 full length basketball courts.

Candace graduated from Benton High school in May, and plans to attend Henderson State University in the fall. Her goal is to become a psychologist or a counselor. According to Candace she “loves the concept of communicating with someone personally, making sure everything is okay in their life, and if not, trying to figure out the problem. I’ve also been told I give the best advice,” says Candace. After being asked what she enjoys doing when she’s not working, Candace replied, “I enjoy being active, in any way, with my church. I sing in the youth choir, as well as dance, and I love attending practices when I’m able to. The youth have a lot of opportunities to volunteer and do fund raisers, and I love doing that as well. The fun and fellowship our youth share when we’re doing things together never makes whatever we’re doing seem like work.”

In response to what her favorite song might be, Candace responded, “My favorite song is Live Through It by James Fortune because it is so inspiring and uplifting. It helps me remember I can keep going even when times are rough.” When asked what she might disclose about herself so people would know something besides just basic facts about her, Candace described herself as someone who loves giving to people. “Whether it’s money, time, work or my talents, it makes me happier to do things for others than it makes them. I never do things for people hoping to get something back. I love making people happy and helping them realize their worth---it motivates me to keep going and to want to do more. It may sound strange, but it truly is what makes me the happiest.”

On June 12th, Candace had the opportunity to spend the day putting her love for volunteering and for helping others into practice as she worked with other youth from around Saline County on the Habitat for Humanity Youth United Build in Benton’s Partnership Village. Candace was more than willing to do whatever was asked of her that day, but the inside of the home’s heating and air conditioning closet has plywood panels nailed to the studs because Candace, by herself, made that happen!

Just for fun, Candace was asked if there was anything on her “bucket list” she would like to do. Immediately she said, “I would like to go sky diving and travel the world. Sky diving is something that looks scary but fun! Doing that would really help me get over my fear of heights and airplanes/helicopters. Traveling the world is something I’ve always wanted to do. I love being on the road and sight-seeing and I would love to visit New York. Learning about different cultures and people would also help me with my counseling or psychology career.”

Asked what she would do if she won the Mega Millions Lottery, Candace replied, “I would pay off my schooling, I would buy myself a car, and I would buy a house to look forward to living in after college. Of course I would give my parents and my siblings some of my winnings. Most importantly, I would give at least 10% to God. I would put the rest in the bank to keep if times got hard.” Candace is a bright young lady with a kind, compassionate personality and a willingness to invest her time and talents into making her dreams and goals a reality.

The staff at Bishop Park holds Candace in the highest regard and realize how much they are going to miss her. The WIA staff come to work day after day and push the paper, collect the data, work on reports and files, strive to meet deadlines and attend meetings because of the opportunity to work with youth like Candace. Candace is going to be someone who serves as an example and inspiration to everyone whose path she crosses along her earthly journey.

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