Monthly Archives: June 2014

Q&A with Isabel, YVC of Nashville Team Leader

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Isabel Johnson-Bann - Summer AC member 2014One of our favorite stories here at YVC is when a Youth Volunteer rises as a leader in her program then eventually becomes a Team Leader, helping give other youth the chance to make a difference!

Isabel Johnson-Bann of YVC of Nashville did just that. She began volunteering with YVC as soon as she was old enough to do so, and now she’s spending the summer working as an AmeriCorps member and Team Leader with YVC of Nashville.

Meet Isabel:

How did you get started volunteering with YVC?

I started volunteering with YVC because my older sister was a YVC member, in Seattle, WA, and Nashville, TN. She was doing so many great things to help the community that I wanted to get involved. So when I became old enough I became a YVC member, I did.

Describe your involvement with YVC as a volunteer.

I joined YVC of Nashville as a YVC advisory board member and I served for 6 years from 2007-2013. I’ve volunteered in almost every type of service-learning project over all 6 years!

What was your favorite part of serving with YVC as a Youth Volunteer?

My favorite part of serving with YVC as a Youth Volunteer was seeing and/or hearing about the change in people’s lives that I had impacted. I did a project working to bring focus to domestic violence and heard how greatly we, as youth, helped to bring attention to the issue. We encouraged people to seek the help they needed! I was very humbled and honored that I could make that big of an inspiration for those women.

Isabel Johnson-Bann at Second Harvest Food Bank 6.26.14

Isabel leading a project and joking around with Youth Volunteers at the local food bank.

What inspired you to become an AmeriCorps Member Team Leader?

I was inspired to become an AmeriCorps member because I wanted a summer job doing something that I loved to do while serving my community. I am very happy that the opportunity was created as working with YVC of Nashville!

How is it different serving as a Team Leader compared to a Youth Volunteer?

It’s a little different being a Team Leader than a Youth Volunteer. The main difference is keeping everything organized and making sure that I really create a positive experience for the youth this summer. Along the way, I have learned that communication is key to getting things done and trusting support from my immediate coworkers is important.

How has YVC impacted your life? 

YVC has impacted my life by highlighting areas in my community that I can help with, being confident in my ability to make change in my community, and encouraging me to take initiative in diversifying my surroundings. And YVC has definitely affected my career choices. I am going to school to be a veterinarian without borders, so I can help people and animals around the world.

Why do you think it’s important to volunteer?

Volunteering is important because it shows that you are really passionate about the issues and not doing it for money. Volunteering helps to build a well-rounded and good-hearted person.

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Q&A with YVC of Manhattan

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Manhattan - Full ColorWelcome YVC of Manhattan, KS, our newest Affiliate! While not quite as metropolitan as the Manhattan in New York City, Manhattan, KS, is known as the Little Apple and is home to Kansas State University. We can’t wait to see all that youth are going to accomplish in Manhattan!

Lori Bishop, Executive Director of the new program’s host site, Flint Hills Volunteer Center, gives us a tour of Manhattan and shares her vision for YVC of Manhattan:

Tell us about the Flint Hills Volunteer Center.

Originally named RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program), the program provided volunteer opportunities for individuals 55 years of age and older.  In 2014, RSVP was merged under the umbrella of the Flint Hills Volunteer Center.  This brings a new era to volunteerism in Manhattan by giving individuals of all ages the opportunity to give back to their community.

What is Manhattan, KS, like?

Manhattan is a great place to live and raise a family. It is a transitional community that is home to Kansas State University and Fort Riley. Manhattan offers something for everyone including arts/entertainment, sports, nightlife, children’s activities, dining and more.

What attracted you to the YVC model of youth service?

I have always wanted to take the success of our volunteer program and create an opportunity for youth to give back to their community. I feel it’s important to start at a young age to teach the youth how to become leaders, make wise decisions, and be better prepared to leave high school with a wealth of “real-world” knowledge as they prepare for college.

Volunteering can help open doors for the youth. A structured volunteer program will help them become future leaders. We will be able to document their volunteer hours which could help them in securing post-high school scholarships. Most importantly, the YVC program will develop team leaders, decision makers and more community members will be served.

Manhattan 1

Lori Bishop (middle) with YVC’s Paul Marksbury and Alyssa Thiel.

What has been the reaction so far as you’ve announced the new program to community members?

The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. Parents and business leaders in the community have asked how to get their children involved.  Many have asked how they can help. I knew it would be well accepted but didn’t realize just how much until people have been learning about it and commenting!

What excites you most about your new YVC program?

I am most excited to introduce a new program to Manhattan. I am looking forward to enrolling students, developing projects, watching them develop as leaders, and sharing their accomplishments with the community. I am excited to see the YVC program develop from scratch and grow to become a huge success!

Why do you think it’s important to volunteer?

A volunteer can learn new skills, make new friends, feel needed, gain confidence, learn more about their community, become active and healthier and help someone less fortunate. The clients receive services needed that would otherwise go unmet. Volunteering is a win-win opportunity.

Join us in welcoming YVC of Manhattan to the YVC family!

Connecting on a Global Scale

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Olivia - Western ConnecticutThe International Youth Advisory Board has provided me with opportunities that I wouldn’t have experienced anywhere else. I was able to connect with other youth from all over the country and Canada. I established bonds that double as great friendships and valuable connections.

Being on the board really gave me a feel for how international YVC really is. Before I had applied I figured that YVC was just a local thing to benefit my city, but after being accepted I realized how huge and impactful this organization really is on a global scale. It felt great to be a leader within this organization and have a direct say in things such as Summer of Service t-shirt designs and future Summit details.

IYAB - Summit 2013 (27)_croppedI had the ability to help plan big, international service projects such as Global Youth Service Day and hear all about how it played out in various parts of the country.

I am so thrilled to have been a part of this board this year and suggest that anyone interested apply immediately. This experience will equip you with stronger leadership skills, new friendships and a whole new view of the Youth Volunteer Corps!

Olivia Harris volunteers with YVC of Western Connecticut and is a member of YVC’s International Youth Advisory Board. She had such a great experience on the 2013-2014 IYAB that she’s reapplying for next year’s term.

New Skills and New Wheels

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Wyandotte HS bikes_lighter

Pedaling down the sidewalk, wind in your hair, racing off to a friend’s house on a hot summer day. It’s a memory that so many people have of a carefree childhood.

Wyandotte HS bikes (1)But many inner-city kids may not have this experience. The expense of a bike, and the time it might take for a parent to teach them how to ride it, might keep them from knowing the freedom of having their own set of wheels.

This spring, a group of youth volunteering with YVC of Greater Kansas City (YVCKC) worked repairing bikes through Revolve KC, a nonprofit bike shop that gives away free bikes while educating community members on bike safety. Thanks to the Youth Volunteers’ hard work, a few more kids in Kansas City, KS, are racing the streets of their neighborhoods this summer on their new sets of wheels.

The youth weren’t experienced bike repairers, but they learned the skills thanks to YVCKC and Revolve KC.

Not only did they help give bikes to needy kids. They also earned a bike themselves after volunteering 10 hours at the shop. Six students from Wyandotte High School in Kansas City, KS, earned a bike through this program.

Wyandotte High School is one of the many schools where YVCKC hosts In-School programs. YVCKC brings service-learning directly to the students who may have trouble finding rides to their traditional volunteer projects. YVCKC works directly with the school to recruit youth for either an elective class or after-school club, and together with the students they create a curriculum based on the students’ passions.

Wyandotte HS bikes (3)Because of this program with Wyandotte High School and Revolve KC, the six youth who completed the program each now have their own bike that not only was a fun reward for their service but also provides transportation for them to get to other YVCKC volunteer projects.

With the Kansas City, KS, community’s obesity rate higher than the national average, this program also encourages a healthier lifestyle with a fun new hobby of biking.

As they rode away from their final volunteer project at Revolve KC on their brand new bikes, the youth left knowing they made a difference in others’ lives, and they also learned new skills that will help them take care of their own bikes and more.

Thanks to the Youth Volunteers who helped give these kids their very first bikes!

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#YVCSUMMER Photo Contest

Trails will be mulched. Dogs will be walked. Icebreakers will be played. Selfies will be taken.

We all know how awesome YVC summer projects are. This year, let’s tell the world.

When you’re out on YVC projects this summer, don’t put your phone away. Use it to snap photos of your experience with YVC then share them on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

It’s a win-win. You spread the word about the awesome things youth are doing with YVC this summer, and you’re entered in a contest where you could earn one of two prizes. The top two photos shared using the #YVCsummer hashtag on either Instagram, Facebook or Twitter will win $50 or $25.

The top photos tell a story of what YVC is, show off some awesome Youth Volunteers and demonstrate how fun YVC projects are. Whether you do this through a quick selfie or a planned-out photo shoot is up to you. There’s no limit to how many photos you enter, so snap away for your best chances at a prize!

Happy photographing!

Spotlight on: YVC of Hampton Roads

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Hampton Roads Spotlight 6.4.2014

The temperatures are rising and YVC’s Summer of Service is in full swing! YVC programs across the U.S. and Canada are kicking off their summer programs this month. We can’t wait to see what kind of projects everyone is doing!

This month we are going to the east coast to YVC of Hampton Roads in Newport News, Virginia. YVC of Hampton Roads is the only independent YVC program in the YVC network, meaning that it is a stand-alone nonprofit organization without a host site.

Laurie Sepanski, Executive Director and Founder of YVC of Hampton Roads and new Program Director Rhonda Baxley are giving us an inside look and advice about their unique YVC!

Tuff Enuf Tire Flip 2Laurie Sepanski, Executive Director:

What kind of fundraisers does YVC of Hampton Roads do?

We have a variety of fundraisers that include the mailing campaigns, grants, and sponsorships, but our most exciting fundraiser is our annual Tuff Enuf Challenge. It’s a 5K obstacle course that’s held at the Noland Trail the weekend before Halloween. Our race is open to people of all fitness abilities who are age 11-99. It has both fun and challenging obstacles along with zombies and a carnival type of atmosphere. Runners wearing costumes are eligible to win raffle prizes. Last year was our first year hosting this event, it was a lot of work but the turnout and reviews were great. We’re looking forward to hosting it again this year!

Do you have any fundraising advice for other YVC programs?

Keep trying and keep talking about all of the benefits of Youth Volunteer Corps; you may never know who will be willing and able to help your YVC.

What is your favorite part of founding/running YVC of Hampton Roads?  

As the founder of YVCHR I love seeing how our organization has grown and I look forward to implementing the vision we have for our organization. I also enjoy hearing from previous Youth Volunteers and Team Leaders. I love knowing their time with YVCHR has made a difference in their lives and watching them as they work in service industries and form families of their own.

What advice do you have for other people considering becoming independent Affiliates?

I would highly recommend becoming an independent Affiliate and definitely think there are advantages to having a singular focus. I would like to suggest that anyone interested in forming a YVC, as an independent 501(c)3, take the time to have a solid business plan to include support from their local schools and business community, along with a strong board of directors.

Tuff Enuf Photo Booth 4Rhonda Baxley, Program Director:

What advice do you have for new Program Directors?

When I first started at YVCHR, I felt like there were so many things that I needed to learn.  You really have to learn by participating in the events and getting to know the agencies and the needs of the agency. Many times, agencies think that they do not want our volunteers; because they think we will be more trouble than benefit. I have found that if I can get our volunteers in the door for at least one event, then they always invite us back. I heard a lot of “no’s” but it pays to be persistent. It’s important to get out there and see what is going on in your community and see how your volunteers would fit into the community happenings. Read the paper and follow local happenings. If you see something that you think would be a good fit, then don’t be shy about calling the organization. It is really important to be organized as well. Know where you are going and what you are expected to do before the project starts.

Tell us about the kids who volunteer with YVC of Hampton Roads:

I really can’t say enough good things about our volunteers. When I overhear people complain about “kids today,” I always tell them that they should accompany me on one of our projects. These kids always show up on time with a desire to learn and be helpful. I have never heard them complain when a project does not go the way it was supposed to. They are always so kind to one another and to any new member. They can get a lot of work done in a relatively short amount of time as well.

Ready to tour some other YVC programs? Check out our previous Spotlights on Iron County, Plymouth, Calgary and Yellowstone County.

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27 Years, 280,000+ Youth

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1987 - 727 years ago this week, the very first YVC Youth Volunteers embarked on the very first YVC projects. Founder and President David Battey shares his experience of those first few days.

People ask when I thought YVC was going to be a success. They are surprised when I am able to pinpoint a day and time—Monday, June 8, 1987, at 5:30 p.m.

You see, that was the first day of service for the 47 high school youth who had signed up to be in the brand new Youth Volunteer Corps of Greater Kansas City.

A lot had gone on right up to that June day—the United Way Volunteer Center had stepped forward to sponsor the project, six nonprofits had developed summer service projects, a very diverse group of teenagers had signed up to be on four-week projects, and the overnight team-building camp had been a success.

My main question after the first day of service was very basic and kind of important—would any of the teens come back for a second day? I needed to know before Tuesday, June 9, 1987.

So I went up to my room at my parents’ house in Shawnee Mission, Kansas. The same room that had been mine since I was seven years old; the same one that my parents thought it was time for me to move out of as a 24 year-old man.

In a time before cell phones, text messages, caller ID and call waiting, I knew what I had to do. I had to call a few of the Youth Volunteers and see how their days went.

I looked over the roster of names and with some trepidation decided to call Andi Prevost. My trepidation had nothing to do with Andi—she was a nice young woman from a public high school in suburban Kansas City. My trepidation came from how she would respond to my question—How was your day? (I didn’t feel like I should couch the question as bluntly as “Will you be coming back to be a part of YVC tomorrow?”)

89DHer mom got Andi on the phone, and as nonchalantly as I could, I asked my question. As only a high school girl can, she gushed about her day. She talked about the kids at the inner-city community center where she had volunteered, she talked about her Team Leader, she talked about the other teens on her team…

On and on she went with little prompting from me. I’m not sure how many questions I could have formulated for Andi; I was overwhelmed in a way that doesn’t happen often in life. Her enthusiasm for service and for doing so with a diverse team of peers was validation that YVC was going to work. I knew then that Youth Volunteer Corps was going to be a success.

My conversation with Andi had energized me. I went on to call another Youth Volunteer that evening, and another and another. The responses were so heartwarming and inspiring, whether they came from boys or girls, public school kids or private school kids, those who lived in the inner city or suburbs, those who did human service projects or those who did physical service.

I never tire of talking to young people about their service with YVC. Indeed, I have been doing so for 25 years now. No matter how long I am blessed enough to hear the energy and idealism in a youth volunteer’s voice, I will never forget that call to Andi Prevost on Monday, June 8, 1987, at 5:30pm.

Originally posted in honor of YVC’s 25th anniversary in 2012.

YVC 20 Years Later: Yvette’s Story

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YvetteWe recently caught up with Yvette Marchetti, a YVC alum who volunteered as a Youth Volunteer with YVC of Greater Kansas City nearly 20 years ago.

Check out what she had to say:

On her YVC experience…

I was a YVC volunteer for years back in the 90’s and got very involved in assisting with organizing events in Kansas City with the youth. As an adult, I’m still very much involved in the Kansas City community and helping people come together on projects to better our home!

On the impact service has on youth…

What YVC does is one of the best things there is for the youth today and for the community, even more so now than when I was a kid.

Our world needs this. It needs a source that allows the youth to be a part of something bigger, something that helps them understand the awesome reward that comes from serving others, building your community and beautifying their home! I can say without a doubt that I would not be who I am now if it was not for my chance meeting of Youth Volunteer Corps way back in the early 90’s!

Nothing has impacted me more in life than being a part of YVC at such a young age. It really shaped me as a well-rounded person, in my opinion—I’m very passionate about community and getting myself and others involved. I understand the importance of teamwork, how to lead and work in a team setting, how to speak publicly among so many other things.

Yvette 1990s

Yvette (on the left) during her YVC years

On how YVC affected her life…

My thanks cannot go out enough to this organization. It’s so important for the youth to get involved and understand there is more than just making a buck in life….but rather giving of your time to help others in need.

Thank you, from the deepest part of my heart, for being available to me at a young age to participate and grow and be a part of something so much bigger than myself!


Q&A with Maggie Swenson, YVC’s Administrative Coordinator

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Introducing…Maggie Swenson, YVC’s new Administrative Coordinator! We’re so excited to have Maggie as part of our team.

Meet Maggie:

Maggie Swenson 5.29.14_squareTell us about your background and what led you to YVC.

I recently graduated from William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri. I majored in Psychology, Applied Critical Thought and Inquiry, and Nonprofit Leadership. After serving in several internships with nonprofit organizations in Kansas City, I knew I had found my purpose in life. I have a passion to make a difference in the world. YVC was a natural fit because this organization is making a difference on a daily basis!

What drew you to join the YVC team?

Several things drew me to YVC. The first thing that caught my eye was the mission of the organization. I volunteered a lot from the age 11-18, and it completely changed me for the better. I am thrilled to be a part of an organization that instills the value of service in young people. When I met the team, a couple other things stood out to me. I can tell that YVC has a staff that is passionate about the mission and supportive of one another, and that is exactly what I was looking for in an organization.

What are you most excited about in your role with YVC?

I am excited about so many things, but I think working with the YVC team is at the top of the list. I can already tell that this is a group of people that collaborates well and listens to one another. I am looking forward to learning and contributing at YVC and working together to further the mission.

Why do you think volunteerism is important?

Volunteering is a way to become more connected with the world and create an impact. It is easy to get caught up in yourself, but when you volunteer you realize that life isn’t about you as an individual. Life is about the relationships you make, the change you create, and the legacy you leave. Volunteering simultaneously inspires you to live this way and gives you a practical way to do so.

What kinds of things do you like to do in your free time?

I love to be outside, especially to run! I competed in track for nine years, so running and working out have always been a very important part of my life. I really enjoy reading; short stories by classic authors are my favorite. I love to travel to new places and experience new cultures, especially with my family. I also spend a lot of my free time volunteering in the Kansas City community.

If you could travel to the city where any YVC Affiliate is located, where would you pick?

Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I have been meaning to visit Louisiana!

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