Meet the YR Staff: 10 Questions with Kerry Martin

Hometown: Kokomo, IN
Title: Office Coordinator
Time involved with YR: 4 years

Kerry with YR Board President Ryan Beal

Q. As the Office Coordinator, you are often the first point of contact for people when they call Youth Resources. How would you explain YR to someone who doesn’t know anything about it?
A. I first start by saying it’s an amazing program, and Evansville’s lucky to have it. There are still a lot of people in Evansville that don’t know about YR or what we do, so I just tell them that we have four different programs for kids, that it’s a drug/alcohol/tobacco-free place where they do sign contracts to be held accountable, and they’re with like-minded kids who strive to be stronger servant leaders in Evansville. And I don’t know any other community that has a program like this.

Q. You’re known as the office snacker. What snacks do you always make sure to keep on hand at work?
A. Popcorn and pickles. Claussen to be exact. And I like veggies and dip.

Q. Sticking with the food theme, if your favorite restaurant agreed to create a menu item in your name, what would you want that dish to be?
A. Well I already have that, kind of – my Subway sandwich. They know my order. It’s a white six-inch flatbread with yellow egg, American cheese, onion, banana pepper, jalapeno pepper, spinach, pickles on the side. And salt and pepper. So now they hear my voice and they go, “Is this Kerry? Ok, go ahead and pull through.”

The Martin kids: Ashlynn (12), Tyler (13), Ava (11)

Q. What is life like with three kids who are each only a year apart? (13, 12, 11)                                        
A. It’s busy and crazy and fun, interesting. With having them so close together, they’re one after the other, Tyler doing the first phase of whatever it is that we’re going through. He’s the oldest, he’s 13. And then Ashlynn is 12. Those two are 13 months apart. Ava’s 11 and Ashlynn and Ava are 19 months apart. So, they pick on each other a lot, but they’re actually very good friends, too. So it’s a give and take all the time, all the time. But it’s pretty fun, actually. It is fun. They love to drive me crazy, and they like to be a pack, too, so they work together. And then they have their fair share of fights. But, who doesn’t?

Q. As a parent and also someone who works with youth, what do you think is the biggest challenge young people face today? 
A. As is in the news now, it’s pressures at school. And that’s what we all hear. But, I’ve always been very in tune with the kids and their feelings and their progress at school and what’s going on and talking to them about things that maybe I wasn’t– didn’t have the opportunity to talk to my parents about. Just being very open with them, just because back then there was a lot of things that you just didn’t talk about. So, I am very much in communication with what they’re doing. But I think there are a lot of kids out there that don’t have that, and lacking that leads up to curiosity and wanting to try new things or rebellion. And I’m not a perfect parent, but where they go to school is very strict, and I think that’s helpful. But bullying and lack of confidence, I think more kids face that than what most people realize.

Kerry (right) with her aunt (center) and twin sister, Kelly    

Q. Did you and your twin sister ever try to switch places or confuse people when you were young?
A. Yes. We did. In 8th grade, one of us had health and one of us had music. So we would wear the same clothes to school on the days that we were gonna switch classes, and we would switch classes. And there were several sets of twins at our high school, and so they actually threatened the twins that if you’re caught switching class then you would be suspended. We decided to switch classes to see if we could just do it. I had taken a health test already, and I knew that she had this test, and she came up to me and said, “Kerry, my test got canceled.” And I’m like, “I’m not taking a test for you.” And she said, “It got cancelled.” So, ok we can go ahead and switch. She gives me a note as I’m going into her health class and she’s headed to my music class that says, “Please don’t fail my test”. And did you get caught? I failed her test on purpose ‘cause I was so mad. And the teacher let her retake it. He was very nice and he let her retake it.

Q. You suddenly somehow end up with a whole day all to yourself. How would you spend it?
A. How would I like to spend it or how would I spend it? I would spend it cleaning the house and doing laundry. But I am getting better at doing things for me. So I would pamper myself, get a massage, get a pedicure, go for a long walk. Having three kids that close together doesn’t leave me a lot of time for me. So I am actually getting better about doing that. And they want me to. I’m a much nicer person when I do that!

The Martin Family: Tyler, Jake, Ashlynn, Kerry & Ava

Q. Do you have any hidden talents?
A. NO. No, I’m not very talented. I have no talents. If somebody put you in a talent show, you would do what? Stand there and my face would get red. I have no talents. [Note from YR staff: We disagree!]

Q. What is one of your favorite YR memories?
A. Hearing Keith Hawkins at TEENPOWER. And then when Jeremy Brown started working here, my kids have grown so close to him that they still talk about him. I treasure the relationship that Jeremy has brought to my kids. He’s a great man. So it’s a memory, but it’s ongoing. And they still ask about him, and so I cherish that because when it comes to kids, people they come and go or they’re in passing. And really developing a relationship, Jeremy did that with all three of my children, and I really appreciated that and it still resonates with them. They still ask me, they’re wanting to know if Jeremy’s going to be coming to TEENPOWER. They would come in the office with me and he would come out of his desk and play with them and just develop that relationship that these young children look up to. And that’s pretty special.

Kerry, second from left, at 2017 High School TEENPOWER.

Q. What do you know now that you wish you would have known in high school?
A. I wish I would have known and been a part of a program in high school like YR with servant leadership, because I was very ignorant to that concept. And in Kokomo we didn’t have any programs that offered those opportunities. And, of course, when I was in middle school and high school, I knew everything. My parents would try to talk to me about different things, but what did they know? Nothing. (laughs) So, I wish there were programs available to high school students in every community because I see how important it is, and I see how it changes the lives of the students to be a part of these programs and around like-minded people. It’s a whole different ballgame. They’re amazing. And I have grown up in Evansville doing different things and meeting other people, but the servant leadership concept is something I wish I would have started a long time ago.

(Kerry was interviewed by YR Development Director Erin Meyer.)