By MINDY MCKENZIERICHLAND COUNTY - Richland Young Professionals (RYP) is a group which is quickly growing and making their name well known throughout the county.President of RYP, Mike Whisler, explained the group held its first meeting in September 2013. Whisler shared the person who was initially responsible for the idea behind the group came from Richland Community Development Group Executive Director Bridget McDaniel."Bridget was the person who spearheaded the effort in creating this group. She reached out to business owners and together created a meeting for anyone who was interested in learning more about the group," Whisler shared.Whisler explained the main purpose of the group involves creating a networking organization for young individuals between the ages of 21 and 45 to connect and work together."Our mission is to connect, collaborate, and thrive. We want to attract and retain young talent to the area of Richland County," Whisler said.During the first meeting, Whisler said 40 people were in attendance. Of those 40 people, 20 of the individuals were from Richland County and 20 of them were transplants to the area, Whisler shared.Moving forward, Whisler explained a 14 person board was created to help with the organization of the group which included honing in on the skills of social, professional, and community engagement.Whisler shared the first official RYP event occurred in January 2014 at the Happy Grape in Lexington."At our first event we had about 150 people show up in attendance. We were not expecting that large of a number at all, but it was just great to see everyone there and so enthusiastic about everything," Whisler stated.Since then, Whisler shared RYP has held about 20 events and have a membership of about 300 individuals.Of those events, two in particular have been held right here in Shelby. Whisler explained the first event, Spokes4Kids, was held during Bicycle Days in July 2014."We went to community organizations and asked if they wanted to form teams to help raise money to help buy bikes for children in the county," Whisler shared.Whisler noted RYP will continue the tradition of joining Bicycle Days this year by participating in Spokes4Kids. In addition, Whisler shared another event took place at the Vault in December which involved members bringing a toy to participate in a toy drive during the holiday season."There were about 80 toys that were brought during the event at the Vault. The toys were donated to children throughout the entire county," Whisler expressed.At each event, Whisler shared the average attendance is usually between 70-80 individuals."One of our main goals is to get the younger individuals more plugged into their community," Whisler revealed.Whisler explained how young professionals in the area can join the group."We have frequent updates on our Facebook page and anyone who would like to join just needs to fill out an application. There is no cost at all," Whisler stated.For more information on RYP visit the website at www.richlandyp.com or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Daily Globe Staff Reporter