Monthly Archives: September 2014

This is What Happens When #YouthTakeOver

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YVCKC - Summer 2014 HQ project - 1I volunteer because I feel wonderful, knowing I am helping improve my community and making a positive impact. – Whitney Estes #YouthTakeOver

I volunteer because seeing the change I can make in the community motivates me to be the best I can be. -Maddie Tolsdorf #YouthTakeOver

I volunteer because I like to spend my time learning valuable lessons and helping to better my community -Maggie Bridges #YouthTakeOver

This is what happens when youth take over YVC Headquarters for a week.

Here at YVC, the staff works diligently to support and grow our Affiliate network, but rarely are we graced with the presence of youth. This summer was different. Just like many of the organizations that YVC youth serve across North America, YVC Headquarters has more work to do than our staff can handle. Who better to help out with all that extra work than youth from our local Affiliate, YVC of Greater Kansas City?

For four days, seven youth from YVCKC descended onto the national headquarters office and got to work. They wrote stockpiles of blogs, like How to Have Fun on a YVC Project in 5 Steps, by Abby Englert. They took a road trip to YVC of St. Joseph, interviewed youth and created graphics. They brainstormed, shopped and put together the decorations for our YVC Summit (sneaking up on us this October, find more information here). Along the way they took over our social media, instagraming, facebooking and tweeting about their experiences in the office, and volunteering in general.

YVCKC - Summer 2014 HQ project - 3We are so grateful for the youth that joined us this summer, and not only because of the help we received, but because these youth reminded us of why we do what we do each day, and for us, that was certainly the best part.

We asked the youth what the best part of the week was for them, and this is what they said:

The best part of #YouthTakeOver was meeting other youth and being really involved in preparing for the YVC Summit. –Davis Mackey

The best part of #YouthTakeOver for me was learning things about YVC that I never knew! – Evie Anderson

The best thing about #YouthTakeOver was getting a behind the scenes look at how YVC operates and meeting the awesome staff! -Tessa Blair

Thanks Tessa, we think you’re awesome too.

To see more of what happened during #YouthTakeOver make sure to follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Kirsten Overby is YVC’s AmeriCorps VISTA – Fund Development and Marketing Coordinator.

AmeriCorps at 20: One of a Million Stories

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Lacey Helmig, Communications and Media Coordinator

Lacey Helmig, Communications and Media Coordinator

At first it seemed like a good alternative to searching for a job when I graduated from college in the peak of the recession. Serving a year at a nonprofit would add some new skills to my resume and help me narrow down my many career options.

But after learning more about AmeriCorps and pressing the “submit” button on my application, I realized it was so much more.

By devoting a year to serving my community, I’d not only get real-life experience, but I just might make a difference too.

It wasn’t long before I was packing my life’s belongings into my little yellow car and driving halfway across the country, from Oregon to Kansas City. I had committed to serving a year with YVC of Greater Kansas City, leading teams of youth on service projects.

Empowered to Make Change
2009-2010 YVCKC AmeriCorps members and staff (both AmeriCorps alums!)

2009-2010 YVCKC AmeriCorps members and staff (both AmeriCorps alums!)

I quickly learned that as an AmeriCorps member with YVC, I wasn’t going to be doing the grunt work the staff didn’t want to do. It was the complete opposite. My three fellow AmeriCorps members and I were the hands and feet of the program, not only planning and supervising every single service project but also having full creative freedom to bring new ideas to the programming.

We designed the structure of the Youth Advisory Board and worked with them monthly, created the monthly newsletter, managed the website, represented the organization at school fairs to recruit new Youth Volunteers, developed relationships with local nonprofits to expand project opportunities and so much more.

Lives Changed

We had the freedom to make a difference at YVC, but more importantly, we had the power to make a difference in the lives of the youth we worked with.

JamesJames, who had been expelled from traditional school and didn’t think he could really make a difference, brought a retirement home resident to tears when he knocked on her door with a holiday card. I showed him the impact he could have when he helped others, and he taught me that everyone deserves a second chance.

Logan, an outstanding student and long-time YVC volunteer, rose as a leader of our Youth Advisory Board and showed me that youth aren’t just the leaders of tomorrow. They’re the leaders of today.

Samantha signed up for YVC the moment she turned 11, and after just a few projects, came out of her shell and began motivating entire teams of youth (most several years older than her) to work hard and have a blast on service projects.

I served alongside hundreds of youth that year and did my best to ignite in them a passion for volunteering. More often than not, they ended up inspiring me even more.

A Stepping Stone to a Career

Thanks to that one year of service with AmeriCorps, I’m lucky to still be a part of the YVC team. The position that I thought would be just a stepping stone ended up being the career I was looking for, with each year giving me more experience and more stories of incredible youth I’ve had the privilege to work with.

Kansas City - Summer 2010 - Shoal Creek (2)I’m just one of the 1,600+ AmeriCorps members who have served with YVC over the last 20 years, and thinking of the impact I was able to have in just one year and one city, I can only imagine how much these members have accomplished in dozens of communities and the thousands of youth whose lives are different because of them.

20 years later, I’m proud to be one of the nearly one million Americans who have served as AmeriCorps members.

I never could have dreamed of the trajectory my life would take that moment I pressed “Submit” on my AmeriCorps application, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Lacey Helmig is the Communications and Media Coordinator for YVC. She began with YVC as an AmeriCorps member in 2009, where she learned from Youth Volunteers the most efficient way to mulch a nature center trail, how to play Ninja, and the undeniable fact that youth can change the world.

On this 20th anniversary of AmeriCorps, read more about the impact that that YVC and AmeriCorps have had together and the thousands of Youth Volunteers affected by the collaboration in YVC’s founder David Battey’s Huffington Post article “AmeriCorps at 20,” or blog posts “Two Paths Emerged in the Wood, and we Mulched the One Most Traveled,” “YVC Team Leaders: Superheroes” and “Changing with World with YVC and AmeriCorps.”

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Spotlight on: YVC of Corvallis

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Corvallis Spotlight 9.9.2014

Welcome to our final installment of the YVC Spotlight summer edition! We have had such a great summer with so many amazing accomplishments from YVCs all over North America. For our last spotlight on summer programs, our Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Lacey Helmig, made a special visit to YVC of Corvallis, in Oregon, to check out their awesome, unique summer program!

Corvallis - Car Wash 8.1.14 - 9_webSpending a week volunteering in the summer is fun. But when you get to finish that week with a field trip to a service project at a local beach or state park, it’s even more awesome.

That’s exactly what you get to do as a volunteer with YVC of Corvallis. In their summer program, they volunteer four days at a local agency like helping at community gardens or working with low-income childcare centers. Then on the last day, most weeks they go out of town to a project like a nearby state park, a farm sanctuary, or they drive an hour and a half to the Oregon coast to do a beach cleanup.

A few Fridays throughout the year, they stay home and hold a car wash to raise money for the YVC program. These car washes not only raise several hundred dollars throughout the summer, but they also teach youth skills on advertising, customer service, teamwork and more.

For nearly 20 years now, YVC of Corvallis has been a key part of the local community, with hundreds of youth making a difference in their community each year.

AmeriCorps member and YVC Team Leader Jessica Kankovsky gives us a glimpse on what it’s like to volunteer with YVC of Corvallis:

Tell us about your summer program.
It’s eight weeks long. We go Monday through Friday from 9:30 to 3:30, with two teams of youth working on separate projects each week. On Fridays we go out of town together and do an all-day project. We’re going to a farm sanctuary next week, and we’ve done beach cleanups, worked in state parks and more.

Corvallis - Car Wash 8.1.14 - 5_webWhat does a successful summer program look like in your opinion?
Kids enjoy themselves during the summer then keep volunteering throughout the school year.

What makes a successful YVC project?
Cooperative sponsoring organizations who give adequate, meaningful work. We could have rocks to sort, but that’s not exactly meaningful work. Youth need to see the impact of what they’re doing.

How has your perception of youth changed since you started working with YVC?
A lot of kids are more knowledgeable about social issues than I was at their age. It was actually a 12-year-old who suggested changing the gender question on our volunteer application to fill-in-the-blank.

What impact has being a part of YVC had on your life?
I’m a lot more connected to the community. I was thrown into the deep end in a good way. I’ve made so many new contacts, and I know about a whole lot of resources.

What advice do you have for youth who have never volunteered before?
Do it! Find something that interests you then just do it!

Ready to tour some other YVC programs? Check out our previous Spotlights on Greater Topeka, Greater Kansas City, Hampton Roads, Iron County, Plymouth, Calgary and Yellowstone County.

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