FORGE to host Family Fun Day, Cornhole Tournament

Date Published: 
July 21, 2017

As a part of the organization’s mission to create a safe, inclusive and encouraging environment for those grappling with challenging life circumstances, FORGE Youth & Family Academy will host its third annual Family Fun Day and Cornhole Tournament on Saturday, July 22.

From 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. outside of the House of Mercy thrift store on Route 113 north of Selbyville, FORGE is welcoming families to play carnival and field-day games, win prizes and savor refreshments as an opportunity for family members to enjoy one another’s company without worrying about financial constraints.

To improve the circumstances of those living in low-income areas and to further their commitment to breaking the cycle of bad choices for children, teenagers and young adults, FORGE Chief Executive Officer Tara Shrieves and Board President Robert Shrieves decided to launch Family Fun Day in 2015.

“We wanted to bring the families of our youth members together to do something in the summertime that is fun and affordable, and to raise funds for the programs so that this event remains fun and affordable,” Tara Shrieves said.

In order to mimic the boardwalk experience without the expenses, Family Fun Day includes free field-day games so that families can experience the satisfaction of winning prizes for no cost. Every hour starting at 11 a.m., participants can engage in tug-of-war, sack races, water relays and watermelon-eating contests.

“Even if you don’t have two pennies, you can come to the FORGE Family Fun Day and do something fun and possibly win a prize, and it wouldn’t cost you anything,” Tara Shrieves said.

In addition to the free field-day games, other affordable options, such as bounce houses, water slides, a dunking booth and carnival games of beanbag toss, ring toss, football toss and a water racer game will be available all day, beginning at 10 a.m.

Although participants need tickets for the activities, Tara and Robert Shrieves said event attendees will still save their money with the offered ticket plans. Families can purchase one ticket for $1, 30 tickets for $20 or 30 tickets and a wristband for unlimited access to the water slide and bounce houses for $25.

In the midst of the field-day events and ticketed games, the Cornhole Tournament will begin at 12:30 p.m. For $10 per person, individuals can register at noon on the day of the event or can fill out a form and send a preregistration check to Robert Shrieves upon contacting him.

Each registrant will be randomly paired with another so that each team has an equal opportunity at winning the tournament. After the score is kept, the winning team will receive prizes — one for each teammate.

Like the Cornhole Tournament, field-day and carnival games also have prizes for the winners. From stuffed animals to local restaurant gift certificates to free passes at Maui Golf of Ocean City, Md., the prizes are intended to appeal to all age groups. Jolly Roger at the Pier in Ocean City donated a majority of the prizes so that FORGE could further adhere to the ideal of an inexpensive Family Fun Day.

Throughout Family Fun Day, if family members want sustenance to energize themselves for these competitions and games, a bake sale and food truck will be open. Cookies, brownies, cotton candy and snowcones at the bake sale station be available for tickets. Grumpy G’s food truck’s hotdogs, hamburgers, chips and drinks will be available at a separate cost.

At the venues for refreshments, games and other activities, members and more than 20 youth members will be volunteering to run the event.

To teach the child volunteers about mentorship and responsibility and to ensure the games are running smoothly, teen leaders will be paired with younger members to oversee each activity. Throughout the event, the pairs will run their stations for a certain amount of time before switching to the next designated station.

The organizers of Family Fun Day explained that the younger children at FORGE will become teen leaders when they get older, so they hope creating teams of volunteers will fortify the organization and keep the cycle of experienced leaders at its core.

Not only will the organization thrive from its members volunteering, but the volunteers themselves will benefit from gaining leadership skills and a sense of self-worth, Tara and Robert Shrieves noted. Since the children may live in poverty or other high-risk situations, FORGE organizers said they believe working Family Fun Day will equip them with qualities to improve their situations.

“It almost gives them a sense of importance that they wouldn’t normally have,” Tara Shrieves said. “They’re having fun, but they’re working games. It makes them feel like they’re in charge. Most of our kids don’t have much control over anything that goes on in their lives, so it makes them responsible.”

Through their volunteer work, they can also learn to achieve goals. During the first week of August, FORGE organizers will reward the volunteers with a camping trip in exchange for their service at Family Fun Day.

While the teenagers are more experienced running Family Fun Day, event organizers said working alongside younger members will prepare them for their future occupations.

“It teaches them how to mentor, and how to interact with people with less experience than them,” Robert Shrieves said. “If you don’t know how to mentor, then you don’t know how to be mentored.”

Teen Impact Leader of FORGE Brianna Gravenor said having the volunteers work the event is an opportunity for their personal growth.

“It’s all about the interaction,” Gravenor said. “The kids have fun while they’re doing it, but they also learn about responsibility, so it’s cool to see them grow and watch them learn throughout the process.”

While the volunteers are working Family Fun Day, they are also cognizant that the money made from the fundraiser will benefit a member of FORGE, for all of the money FORGE raises at its fundraisers, including Family Fun Day, 20 percent of what is raised is donated to FORGE’s “Honorary Member.”

Every year, adult volunteers nominate and elect a youth member with a birth defect, disability, injury or unexpected illness to be an “Honorary Member.” This year’s “Honorary Member” is Kylie Boston, a 13-year-old girl who was diagnosed with brain cancer in March.

That means “20 percent of the proceeds from every fundraiser we do for the next 10 months will be donated to Kylie’s family to help offset transportation costs and medical expenses,” Tara Shrieves said.

Knowing that their efforts at Family Fun Day can directly contribute to improving Boston’s medical condition and with FORGE’s mission to facilitate better conditions for its members in mind, the volunteers are motivated to work hard at the event, noted Robert Shrieves.

“These kids take this really, really seriously,” Robert Shrieves said. “They want to do the best that they can do in every part of it, because they know who the honorary member is.”

The rest of the money made at Family Fun Day and other fundraisers goes into expanding FORGE’s programs, paying for transportation costs and creating other measures to strengthen FORGE.

To inform others about FORGE, Bob Steele of WGMD radio will broadcast Family Fun Day live on location from 10 a.m. to noon. After befriending Tara Shrieves and discussing FORGE at a church in Selbyville about a year ago, WGMD Marketing Consultant Jennifer Lefebvre offered to broadcast any fundraisers for the organization.

“For me personally, this organization touches my heart, and I support them when I can,” Lefebvre said, adding that she is going to attend Family Fun Day to help with the live broadcast but to also endorse a cause about which she is passionate — providing safety and positivity to struggling families.

“I really hope that FORGE Youth & Family Academy is able to spread its mission of hope to an ample amount of people,” Lefebvre said.

With that mission in mind, Tara and Robert Shrieves launched FORGE — For Our Righteous God Eternal — as a nonprofit youth and ecumenical organization on June 13, 2015, in Selbyville. Focusing on Christian principles but still inviting non-believers, the organization teaches its members life lessons that they say reflect the Golden Rule and that equip them with the right mindset to enact change.

In order to break the cycle of bad choices for more than 70 individuals in Worcester and Wicomico counties in Maryland and Sussex County in Delaware, they said, FORGE has vowed to provide them with an encouraging environment of sound advice and support so that they become self-reliant rather than repeat their current cycle.

“No matter where you came from, no matter what your upbringing is and no matter what your home situation is, you are not stuck in repeat in that same cycle,” Robert Shrieves said.

To help break the cycle, FORGE has a variety of programs. Every Friday at 6:30 p.m., individuals are invited to eat dinner, listen to announcements and music, learn that night’s lesson and then end with a game.

Other programs include FORGE Teen Impact to inspire teenagers to positively influence their communities, FORGE Round Table for studying and discussing certain topics, and the newer FORGE 12 Steps and FORGE Family Support.

With the programs, the FORGE team said it reassures those struggling they are not alone in their journey.

“It gives people in the community hope that there is somebody out there who is nonjudgmental,” Robert Shrieves said. “You can just go and have fun and learn a little bit and know that there are people who can help you get out of just about whatever cycle you’re in.”

In order to break the cycle of bad choices, Tara and Robert Shrieves said, they hope a large crowd will attend Family Fun Day, learn about the organization and become motivated to stimulate change.

“We have a community where finances are an issue and poverty is an issue,” Tara Shrieves said. “If we’re ever going to fix any of that, we have to break the cycle, and the only way to do that is to get the entire community involved.”