Monthly Archives: October 2014

Come Together: Youth Making a Big Impact

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Once a year something really quite magical happens. Youth from across the United States and Canada come together to connect with one another, build leadership skills and be inspired at YVC’s annual Summit.

After participating in poverty IMG_3845simulations and learning about leveraging passion for good, youth stepped out of workshops and into the community, eager to get to work. Around seventy volunteers from the Summit marched down to the Brush Creek Community Rain Garden—nestled away at Theis Park in the heart of Kansas City, Missouri— ready to get their hands dirty and transform this small but mighty piece of land.

The garden, originally created by students at the Kansas City Art Institute, is designed to educate the public about the advantages of capturing rain water where it falls and using native plants to help it soak into the soil instead of running off the surface. The youth were given an overview of the purpose of the garden and set to work preparing the land for the impending winter months. They removed dead grass, hauled rocks and edged the entire perimeter of the garden. Once the dead brush was cleared away, the youth aided the flowers and bushes in spreading their seeds to the newly exposed soil.

When all was said and done the Master Gardener called the youth together and thanked them for their efforts,
letting them know that in just over one hour of service, they had completed what would have taken their community volunteers about six months to complete! YVC volunteers completely transformed this piece of land. They made a real and tangible impact and saw first-hand that coming together can truly make a difference.


Congratulations to 184 Awesome Youth!

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Congratulations to the recipients of 2014 Milestone Awards! Each year we give out three categories of awards to extraordinary youth who have volunteered with YVC.

The 100-In-1 Award is for youth who have volunteered at least 100 hours with YVC in a single year. The Ethic of Service Award is for youth who have volunteered at least 500 hours with YVC in their career. The World-Changer Award, YVC’s most prestigious award, is for youth who have volunteered at least 1,000 hours with YVC in their career.

During the award ceremony at Summit 2014, we gave out 175 100-in-1 Awards and 12 Ethic of Service Awards. No one earned the most prestigious World-Changer Award this year, but we hope to be able to award a youth with that highest honor next year!

Below is the incredible list of youth making huge differences in their communities:

Ethic of Service Award:

Joshua Bush – YVC of Anderson County

Kennedy Dockhorn – Greater Kansas City

Doug Krolman – YVC of Calgary

Anna Leach – Greater Kansas City

Wentao Li – YVC of Calgary

Allysa Lisbon – YVC of Greater Kansas City

Addison Slack – Greater Kansas City

Julia Slack – Greater Kansas City

Maichael Wang – YVC of Calgary

Annie Wu – YVC of Calgary

Eva Xu – YVC of Calgary

Krystal Young – YVC of Anderson County


100-in-1 Award:

Sariah Adams – YVC of Iron County

Sarah Al-Saedy – YVC of St. Joseph

Reagan Amato – YVC of Greater Kansas City

Ashley Arneson – YVC of Yellowstone County

Rahul Arora – YVC of Calgary

Nia Austin – YVC of Greater Kansas City

Asha Bansal – YVC of Calgary

Garrett Beaulieu – YVC of Alpena

Katharine Birkness – YVC of Calgary

Tessa Blair – YVC of Greater Kansas City

Elena Blum – YVC of Greater Topeka

Benjamin Bohanan – YVC of Greater Kansas City

Allie Bonebright – YVC of Yellowstone County

Spencer Branham – YVC of Muskogee

Denali Burke – YVC of Grant County

Sammie Buschman – YVC of Iron County

John Cabayao – YVC of Calgary

Ashia Capps – YVC of Muskogee

Aubrey Chapman – YVC of Alpena

Sunny Chen – YVC of Calgary

Justin Chhuor – YVC of Calgary

Michael Christ – YVC of Calgary

Logan Clark – YVC of Greater Kansas City

Teller Clark – YVC of Greater Kansas City

Cameron Clinkscales – YVC of Anderson County

DestaniCooksey – YVC of Greater Kansas City

Maria Fernanda Coronado – YVC of Muskogee

Maria Jose Coronado – YVC of Muskogee

Tony Deng – YVC of Calgary

Mahtab Dhaliwal – YVC of Calgary

Rohit Dhawan – YVC of Calgary

Sonia Dhawan – YVC of Calgary

Kennedy Dockhorn – YVC of Greater Kansas City

Brian Du – YVC of Calgary

Caitlin Enloe – YVC of Muskogee

Emily Fannin – YVC of Greater Kansas City

John Fernandez – YVC of Muskogee

Thomas Fosselman – YVC of Greater Kansas City

Miriam French – YVC of Grant County

Nathan Garcia – YVC of Alpena

Jaycee Gardner – YVC ofMuskogee

Brittany Garrett – YVC of Muskogee

Richard Gatip – YVC of Calgary

Ethan Gilworth – YVC of Greater Kansas City

Samantha Hamil – YVC of Muskogee

Allie Hathaway – YVC of Muskogee

Madison Horton – YVC of Iron County

Ali Ibrahim – YVC of Calgary

Ross Jardine – YVC of Muskogee

Kaitlyn Jensen – YVC of Iron County

Harjee Johal – YVC of Calgary

Mikaela Johnson – YVC of Calgary

Tracey Jones – YVC of Iron County

Bailee Jordan – YVC of Anderson County

Sam Keller – YVC of Hampton Roads

Adam Kelsey – YVC of Yellowstone County

Sarah Kern – YVC of Yellowstone County

Sukh Khaira – YVC of Calgary

Ayesha Khan – YVC of Calgary

Genevieve Kilburn-Smith – YVC of Calgary

Cassandra Kimble – YVC of Muskogee

Paskalina Kinanthi – YVC of Calgary

Brandon Kinney – YVC of Greater Kansas City

Mary Knack – YVC of Muskogee

Noelle Korpusik – YVC of Alpena

Amanda Kuang – YVC of Calgary

Lindsay Kuch – YVC of Calgary

Sydni Lapsley – YVC of Greater Kansas City

Tyler Latimer – YVC of Anderson County

Elizabeth Leach – YVC of Greater Kansas City

Laurie Lee-Glover – YVC of Calgary

Ben Leeper – YVC of Greater Kansas City

Jason Li – YVC of Calgary

Mandy Li – YVC of Calgary

Jenny Lin – YVC of Calgary

Alyssa Linang – YVC of Calgary

Logan Linzy – YVC of Muskogee

Lindsay Loparo – YVC of Anderson County

Tevin Ma – YVC of Calgary

Cori Mah – YVC of Calgary

Kendal Marie-Schamens – YVC of Anderson County

Jessica Martinez – YVC of Grant County

Matthew Mattheson – YVC of Iron County

Phylisia Mayfield – YVC of Muskogee

Jessica McAvoy – YVC of Calgary

Patton Meacham – YVC of Greater Kansas City

Shelby Merrill – YVC of St. Joseph

Ashleah Metcalf – YVC of Greater Topeka

Abbey Meyer – YVC of Grant County

Soham Mhaskar – YVC of Ann Arbor

Samantha Mills – YVC of Greater Kansas City

Nicholas Morris – YVC of Yellowstone County

Kolia Morton – YVC of Muskogee

Julie Moysiuk – YVC of Calgary

Haroon Munir – YVC of Calgary

Joseph Munoz – YVC of Grant County

Korrine Nelson – YVC of Western Connecticut

Lauren Ngo – YVC of Calgary

Paula Ngo – YVC of Calgary

Matthew Norris – YVC of Anderson County

Jourdan Olsson – YVC of Greater Kansas City

Christian O’Neal – YVC of Alpena

Raheem Pace – YVC of Greater Kansas City

Mariah Palomarez – YVC of Grant County

Michael Palomarez – YVC of Grant County

Zane Pamplin – YVC of Muskogee

Maitri Panchal – YVC of Calgary

Sauhard Pant – YVC of Calgary

Sarah Park – YVC of Calgary

Bradley Perez – YVC of Muskogee

Bryan Perez – YVC of Muskogee

Shmona Perhar – YVC of Calgary

Tien Phan – YVC of Calgary

Naomi Phung – YVC of Calgary

Charlie Pott – YVC of Greater Kansas City

Hannah Precour – YVC of Alpena

Alex Presbitero – YVC of Calgary

Abigayle Price – YVC of Anderson County

Misha Prukalski – YVC of Western Connecticut

Alexey Quick – YVC of Greater Kansas City

Svetlana Quick – YVC of Greater Kansas City

Nazifa Rahman – YVC of Calgary

Madiha Rana – YVC of Calgary

Jewel Reji – YVC of Calgary

Kayla Russell – YVC of Muskogee

Merci Russell – YVC of Greater Kansas City

Timea Savage – YVC of St. Joseph

Maryum Sayeed – YVC of Calgary

Elizabeth Seabolt – YVC of Muskogee

Ezra Seiuli – YVC of Iron County

Daniel Seyts – YVC of Calgary

Isobel Shaffer – YVC of Greater Kansas City

Raj Shah – YVC of Calgary

Judie Shang – YVC of Calgary

Kaylin Shelley – YVC of Iron County

Emily Shook – YVC of Anderson County

Matthias Siber – YVC of Western Connecticut

Maneet Sidhu – YVC of Calgary

Logan Siess – YVC of Alpena

Heaven Singian – YVC of St. Joseph

Addison Slack – YVC of Greater Kansas City

Julia Slack – YVC of Greater Kansas City

Kiran Thawardas – YVC of Nashville

Andy To – YVC of Calgary

Maddie Tolsdorf – YVC of Greater Kansas City

Alex Valenzuela – YVC of Greater Kansas City

Shinia Van – YVC of Calgary

Daniel Van Kirk – YVC of Muskogee

Kritin Vasamreddy – YVC of Greater Kansas City

Katherina Vo – YVC of Calgary

Bonnie VosWinkel – YVC of Western Connecticut

Leo Wang – YVC of Calgary

Leo Wang – YVC of Calgary

Linda Wang – YVC of Calgary

Shan Jin – YVC of Wang  Calgary

Rachel Williams – YVC of Greater Kansas City

Kaci Wilson – YVC of The Capital Area

Kelli Wilson – YVC of The Capital Area

Wyatt Wilson – YVC of Muskogee

Rebecca Wojciechowski – YVC of Alpena

Alex Wong – YVC of Calgary

Eric Wong – YVC of Calgary

Miranda Wood – YVC of Muskogee

Alex Woods – YVC of Alpena

Rachel Xin – YVC of Calgary

Hannah Yang – YVC of Calgary

Rebecca Yang – YVC of Calgary

Alyssa Yarbrough – YVC of Greater Kansas City

Amber Yarbrough – YVC of Greater Kansas City

Cole Zann – YVC of Alpena

Angelina Zelinsky – YVC of Calgary

Al Zhang – YVC of Calgary

Edwin Zhang – YVC of Calgary

Yangchen Zhang – YVC of Calgary

Maedeh ZMarzoughi – YVC of The Capital Area

Congratulations to these all-star Youth Volunteers!

Meet the other award winners announced during the award ceremony at the YVC Summit: Affiliate of the Year, Program Director of the Year and Project of the Year.

Project of the Year: YVC of Ann Arbor

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YMCA Growing Hope, 7-22-14.

Each year, youth volunteer on thousands of different projects with YVC across the U.S. and Canada. From soup kitchens to city parks, animal shelters to retirement homes, there are tons of project options.

This year we launched a new award for the Project of the Year to honor the most creative, engaging and impactful of these projects across the YVC network.

YMCA Growing Hope, 7-22-14.Congratulations to YVC of Ann Arbor for the 2014 Project of the Year!

This summer they worked with Growing Hope, a local nonprofit that helps people improve their lives and communities through gardening and healthy food access.

Each week over the summer, a group of 10 Youth Volunteers served at Growing Hope. They planted seeds early in the summer, and by the end of the summer, they were able to harvest their produce.

Youth spent a couple hours harvesting food from the farm, then they would transfer the food to the local farmers market to sell. One participant said, “It was really nice to see where all the food from the farmers market comes from.”

Youth were able to see their impact immediately while also getting a behind-the-scenes look at how food gets to their tables. They learned all kinds of things, from gardening skills to healthy eating habits.

You can see more about YVC of Ann Arbor in their Spotlight.

The 2014 Project of the Year was announced during the Award Ceremony at the YVC Summit. Meet the other award winners announced at the Summit: Affiliate of the Year, Program Director of the Year and Milestone Awards.


Program Director of the Year: Laurie Sepanski

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Laurie receiving her award at the Summit.

Congratulations to Laurie Sepanski, the 2014 recipient of the Program Director of the Year award!

As the first year of this new award, it was only fitting to give the honor to Laurie, who started her YVC program from scratch just five years ago.

YVC of Hampton Roads is the only independent Affiliate in the YVC network, meaning that it is an independent 501(c)3 organization without a host site. All other YVC organizations are hosted by another nonprofit like United Way, YMCA, Parks and Recreation, etc.

Laurie saw a need in her community for high-quality youth service opportunities, and she saw YVC as the best way to fill that need. She began raising money and community support to make this dream a reality. Without Laurie’s hard work, determination and passion, YVC of Hampton Roads may never have been born.

YVC of Hampton Roads has grown steadily, with 374 youth volunteering 5,698 hours in the last year—their biggest year ever.

Hear Vince Constantino, YVC of Hampton Roads’ founding board chair, describe Laurie’s impact:

You can see more about YVC of Hampton Roads in their Spotlight.

Laurie is such a valuable part of the YVC family who has set a great example for other Program Directors, both new and veteran. Congratulations, Laurie!

The 2014 Program Director of the Year honor was announced during the Award Ceremony at the YVC Summit. Meet the other award winners announced at the Summit: Affiliate of the YearProject of the Year and Milestone Awards.

YVC of Greater Kansas City – 2014 Affiliate of the Year

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yvckc croppedCongratulations to YVC of Greater Kansas City, the 2014 Affiliate of the Year!

YVCKC - Summer 2014 (5)As the very first YVC program ever (launched in 1987), YVC of Greater Kansas City is still growing each year, with last year being its biggest year ever.

Last year 952 youth served 20,812 hours with YVC of Greater Kansas City. They helped 99 local agencies on 476 projects.

YVC of Greater Kansas City’s reach extends from the inner city to the suburbs, with youth from all over the metro area serving together on any given project. With three to five projects offered each weekend, five after-school projects offered during the week and 7-10 projects offered each week during the summer, there’s always something for youth to choose from.

YVC of Greater Kansas City also works to make sure that all youth get the chance to volunteer, even if it might be hard for them to get a ride to projects. They launched the In-School program to bring volunteering directly to these youth.

Wyandotte HS bikes_lighterThis school year, YVC of Greater Kansas City has nearly a dozen In-School projects in urban and suburban school districts where they bring service-learning lessons and projects directly to the youth in their schools. Some of these programs even allow youth to earn school credit for a service-learning class.

Last spring six Kansas City, KS, high school students involved in the In-School program at Wyandotte High School volunteered at a local nonprofit helping to repair bikes. They didn’t know anything about bike repair before volunteering, but they were trained and now have the skills to repair bikes on their own. Not only that, but after completing 10 hours of service repairing bikes, they each got to take home a bike for themselves! Now they have their own set of wheels to help them get to YVC projects! Read more about that unique project here.

YVC of Greater Kansas City is also the proud home to the record-holder for the most hours ever served with YVC. Audrey Simmons graduated out of YVC a couple years ago, but no one across the U.S. or Canada has surpassed her record yet. Meet Audrey and hear her story with YVC of Greater Kansas City here:

Congrats again, YVC of Greater Kansas City, for the Affiliate of the Year honor. We can’t wait to see all that youth in Kansas City will accomplish this year!

Meet the other award winners announced during the award ceremony at the YVC Summit: Program Director of the Year, Project of the Year and Milestone Awards.


Summit 2014: Make the World Your Canvas

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Summit 2014 wrapped up Sunday after an incredible weekend celebrating the accomplishments of the last year, learning how to serve our communities even better and sharing ideas with each other.

Post-Summit Infographic 2014

Here’s what just a few of the Summit attendees had to say about their experience:


“I thought it was amazing how all these people come from all over the U.S. and Canada and volunteer to make the community a better place.”


“YVC Headquarters does an amazing job of bringing us all together and educating us as well—and it’s fun!”


“It was inspiring to be a part of a great weekend of learning.”

ask the president

“Each workshop had my attention from the get-go.”


“I learned a ton from everyone—youth, AmeriCorps members and directors. Everyone had a new idea!”


“I learned it’s ok to be different and YOU CAN MAKE A CHANGE.”

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“Best weekend ever!”

Thank you to everyone who was able to attend the Summit! Save the date for next year’s Summit in Ann Arbor, MI, Oct. 23-25, 2015.

A huge thank you to our funders that make it possible for the YVC Summit to transform Youth Volunteers’ lives each year.

Summit 2014 Sponsors:

Sprint - from Google BlueKC_vert      RAYGUNlogoComedy City_bigger

Spotlight on: YVC of Ann Arbor

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Ann Arbor Spotlight 10.3.14

This month we are heading north to Ann Arbor, Michigan. As many of you know YVC has been around for 27 years, and YVC of Ann Arbor has been part of the YVC family for most of that time. YVC of Ann Arbor is celebrating 20 impressive years of changing lives through volunteering this year.

We caught up with Cathi Duchon, the fantastic President/CEO of Ann Arbor YMCA (and YVC Headquarters board member!), to find out more about how YVC has grown and changed in the Ann Arbor community over the last 20 years.

What is the biggest achievement that YVC of Ann Arbor has had in the last 20 years?

Ann Arbor - Summer 2014There are a number of areas of achievement which I would identify for the YVC of the Ann Arbor Y program:

  • Creating a culture of youth volunteers in the Ann Arbor community. Over the past 20 years thousands of youth have developed an understanding of long-term volunteer participation. We have many “known” success stories and many, many more unknown. We have youth returning as Team Leaders, youth returning as Y full-time staff and, youth on Y boards or most likely, boards of other nonprofits.
  • Our YVC program has evolved from being a program that the Y did, to a program that we own. Our board, our staff, our community associate the YVC with the Y. 20 years of history has given us credibility at being able to deliver quality volunteer youth who are dependable and who provide valuable service to our community.
  • Ability to adequately fund the program – which was not the case in the early years. Our funding is well established and is not an issue, so we can focus on creating excellent experiences for youth and for our partners with whom we volunteer.
  • Training staff in Developmental Assets and establishing a culture within YVC of assessing impact through the implementation of specific developmental assets.
  • The biggest achievement is YVC has become the cornerstone of Ann Arbor Y teen programming. It set us up for growth in serving this population at our Y.

How has YVC of Ann Arbor changed and grown over the last 20 years?

Ann Arbor 2013We have learned many lessons:

  • We have empowered our youth through the Youth Advisory Council to develop volunteer projects which will attract and motivate young volunteers.
  • We have involved our youth in our efforts to raise funds, not so much for the dollars they raise, but more because we have a goal of creating a continuing culture of philanthropy, as well as a culture of volunteerism.
  • We have developed YVC programming outside of the Y and into surrounding communities and local schools, bringing the program to a much more diverse group of youth.
  • We have provided YVC to hundreds of special needs youth, who also feel the power of volunteering.
  • On a more practical level, we have changed our summer program organization by making groups smaller in order to find more meaningful projects. We know the agencies who do not like large groups and we focus the older youth on the projects that require fewer, more skilled volunteers. We do projects which are mostly accessible with public transportation, which reduces the need for expensive transportation and the risk of driving long distances.

From your perspective, what impact has YVC of Ann Arbor had on the local community?

Our YVC has set a high standard for youth volunteers in our community. Because of the 20 year history, a reputation has been established. This has been carefully developed and maintained by each of our YVC directors and is critically important. Meaningful volunteer projects are the heart of a program – for the young volunteers as well as the Team Leaders. In order to have the confidence of agencies in our community we have been very careful to conduct surveys, establish relationships and develop strong partnerships with the organizations where our youth volunteer. Our projects have been very creative and innovative.

Many of our youth have also gone on to volunteer further with an organization, to be staff for the Y, to be YVC Team Leaders. One young man told me that his first Y experience was with YVC, and now that he is a YVC Team Leader, he has “completed the circle.”

YVC of Ann Arbor is hosted by the YMCA, how does YVC help promote the YMCA’s goals of healthy living, youth development and social responsibility?

YMCA Growing Hope, 7-22-14.We feel very fortunate to have established this significant youth development and social responsibility program well before the areas of focus had been established by the YMCA. YVC has been our Y’s primary youth development program. And, of course, volunteering is social responsibility at the highest level.

While other Ys are attempting to grapple with the programming and funding of youth development and social responsibility, we in Ann Arbor have been doing it for many years.

Also, as I mentioned in the first question, YVC was the first of the teen programs established at our Y. It became the cornerstone of our teen programs from which many others have been launched – including Action Corps, Youth in Government, Leaders Club, Teens on Board, Youth Global Leaders and Teen After School.

What do you foresee in the next 20 years of YVC of Ann Arbor?

We will continue to expand our reach, by becoming more established in the Ypsilanti community; we hope to grow Action Corps, which is a subset of our YVC that empowers youth to initiate new volunteer opportunities; we will participate on a volunteer global project, as it is critically important for today’s youth to understand their global community.

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

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