Youth Opportunities United (Y.O.U.), an intervention and mentoring program for the young people of Cincinnati, will hold its fifth annual "Swingin' and Cruisin' for YOU" gala Sept. 9, with dinner, live music, and silent and live auctions. Y.O.U. board member Cynthia Muhlhauser says the gala, while bringing in donations, makes the community aware of Y.O.U.'s growing mission.

"It's really grown significantly in terms of how much money we make," she says.

But the gala is more than a chance to donate money. It presents an opportunity to volunteer and change the lives of young people who range in age from 7 to late tees. Many of the children in the program come from broken homes. Some have been through the criminal justice system.

Muhlhauser's husband, Rick, says he and Richard Adams started the non-profit in 1990 to help correct "the shortcomings of our society."
Now, Y.O.U. pairs troubled teens with adults who will teach them self-worth and discipline by example. Teens must speak with their partner at least three times a week, and one of those encounters must be in person. "It's a pretty intense year," Cynthia says, but she says the approach has a 75 percent success rate.

"We take away their ability to honestly say, 'No one ever tired to help me'," Executive Director Holly Sowels remarks. "They can't ever say that again."

The group also provides tutoring for ninth-grade Princeton students and kids at Douglass Elementary School in Walnnut Hills. Cynthia says Y.O.U. hopes that by reaching kids earlier, they'll be less likely to commit crimes and drop out of school. The group is committed to "breaking the cycle of truancy, teen pregnancy and crime."

Some of the kids wh'™ve benefited from Y.O.U. will put on a presentation at the gala, and the auctions will include artwork created by the children.