Monthly Archives: November 2014

Why I Give: A Note from the President

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David UnselfieEvery now and then we are propelled to reflect on our giving; including how, when, where and why we give. At YVC, the giving that we reflect on most commonly is the generosity of our youth, who contribute thousands of hours of their time to communities across the country every year.

But then days like Thanksgiving – and especially Giving Tuesday, which is just around the corner – remind me that I, too, give. Like the youth, I give of my time through my service in the nonprofit sector. Unlike the youth, however, I also have income to give.

While money may seem like a crass subject to some, it is the lifeblood of the nonprofits that serve our communities. Without the monetary support of people like you and me, more families would go hungry, more people would suffer harsh Midwestern winters on the street, and more youth would struggle to realize their potential.

My preference has long been to give to smaller, grassroots organizations where I can really see the difference my money is making. These types of places include start-ups, church-related mission works to help the poor internationally, and – of course – YVC.

Greater Kansas City - MLK Day 2014 - Sunflower House - David (3)For example, when I give at YVC, I can see the difference, whether it’s from giving a larger sum of money to fund the development of a new Affiliate, or giving smaller amounts to support the recruitment of a new Youth Volunteer. $8 a month is all it takes for YVC Headquarters to support a Youth Volunteer, and while this seems insignificantly small to many people, to the youth who benefit from being able to serve, this experience can be life-changing.

I see this same phenomenon occurring in our Youth Volunteers across the country. When they see the impact of their service and the lives they touch by their generosity, they’re inspired, and they continue to give- not tomorrow, not next week, but today.

So this Giving Tuesday, as we celebrate an international day of giving, I invite you to reflect on the role of giving in your life. Why do you give? How do you give? And in what ways does giving back enrich your life and make you who you are?

David Battey is President and Founder of YVC.

Why do you give? Snap an unselfie and share it with the hashtag #LivetoGive. Find more details about unselfies, Giving Tuesday, and how to have your donation matched here.

Why I Give: A Volunteer’s Perspective

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MaddieWith the holidays blooming on the horizon, I wanted to take a moment on why I give through volunteering.

I can remember the time when I realized exactly how much I was making a difference. The first time I volunteered was my first year in high school, and I had just learned that I needed to get sixty hours, a daunting number, of community service. I did some research online and the Youth Volunteer Corps of Greater Kansas City popped up. I found a weekly project that worked for me, and signed up immediately.

My first day of working with the children at Bethel Neighborhood Center was life-changing. Seeing the way the kids’ faces lit up when they saw the volunteers was exhilarating, and being able to interact, joke and help the kids was something I had never experienced before. I left Bethel that day with a smile the size of Mars on my face.

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The next week, one of the kids came up to me and handed me a drawing. It was a drawing of me and her, holding hands, with the caption “Thank you for everything.” A realization hit me right then; I am making a difference in kids’ lives. Through just one small hour and a half out of my week, I put smiles on kids’ faces. I have now volunteered at Bethel for three years, and have expanded my volunteering throughout YVC. Although I’ve had so many wonderful experiences volunteering with YVC, the one I am most thankful for (and the one that kept me volunteering) was that very first day at Bethel.

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Maddie Tolsdorf serves on the International Youth Advisory Board in addition to being a volunteer with YVC of Greater Kansas City. She has volunteered nearly 300 hours (and counting!) with YVC in the last two years.

Why do you give? Snap an unselfie and share it with the hashtag #LivetoGive. Find more details about unselfies, Giving Tuesday, and how to have your donation matched here.

This is Why We Give

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photoYou only have one life to live, so use it wisely. Alyssa and I were a couple of years out of college when we decided to commit to serving a year as AmeriCorps VISTA members. I wanted to utilize some of my dusty unused skills and learn others, Alyssa wanted to be challenged and be a part of a movement that was bigger than herself, and we had both decided long ago that we wanted to give back to the community in a truly meaningful and fulfilling way.

We had both started volunteering when we were young, and now as adults, we understand the impact that those experiences can have on you. The broadening of perspectives, the understanding of what you are truly capable of, and the feeling that you really, truly play an integral role in building your community—these were all important parts of forming who we are as citizens today. Serving with YVC seemed a natural fit.

So we set to work, and over the past year we have had the opportunity to place the foundation for several capacity-building projects here at YVC Headquarters. We have brainstormed and questioned, we have learned and we have grown. This year we gave of ourselves, but not without getting something in return. We are grateful that we have had the opportunity to meet—and be connected to—an amazing network of AmeriCorps members that are making a real impact every day, and an incredible network of Youth Volunteers, Program Directors and Team Leaders that have moved and inspired us both. This year has been a roller coaster, but with all of the ups and downs, the challenges and rewards of serving with a nonprofit organization, it is these people who have made it all worth it.

IMG_4095Today we complete our year of service, our pet projects percolating for the next amazing VISTAs to continue to develop and make better. Although our year of service with YVC may be done, and we are not quite sure what our futures have in store, we know that we are ready to continue to serve our communities. When you give of yourself amazing things can happen—to those that you help and to yourself. You only have one life to live, this is why we give.

Why do you give? Snap an unselfie and share it with the hashtag #LivetoGive. Find more details about unselfies, Giving Tuesday, and how to have your donation doubled here.

A huge thanks to Kirsten Overby (the author of this post) and Alyssa Thiel for devoting a year of their lives to serve as AmeriCorps VISTA members with YVC!

YVC of Calgary Breaks World Record

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Last month a team of YVC of Calgary Youth Volunteers partnered with local corporation Cenovus with one challenge in mind: Break the World Record for the most sandwiches created in an hour. With some careful planning and an efficient process, they blew the record out of the water and provided more than 20,000 sandwiches to hungry Calgary residents through local homeless shelters and soup kitchens.

Check out all they accomplished:


Spotlight on: YVC of Anderson County

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 Anderson County Spotlight 11.4.2014

There are nearly thirty YVC programs across the United States and Canada. All of these programs are continually finding new ways to engage youth in volunteering, and each offers their own unique perspective on youth volunteering in their community. We have had the opportunity over the past year to learn about many of these unique aspects that make our YVC family awesome! From Plymouth’s MLK Day project to Iron County’s fundraising event, we have gotten to see just how diverse YVC is!

This month we are going to Anderson County, South Carolina, to find out more about their creative spin on a YVC project. They took YVC to a whole new country! Former Program Director Carol Loyd and current Youth Volunteer Lindsey Loparo fill us in!

Anderson County - Ireland 2014 - 15
Carol Loyd, former Program Director:

Tell us a little bit about this trip:

This trip was designed to give our youth an opportunity to see another part of the world and learn about different cultures, meet youth who are volunteering in their country, and experience serving in another part of the world. We traveled to Ireland and Northern Ireland. We worked at Kilcreggan Farm and Garden alongside individuals with special needs. This farm is in the middle of town, and provides opportunities for these individuals with special needs to use their skills in a positive way. The farm also has apartments where some of these individuals live. The youth spent time with members of the Youth Council in Ireland and quickly became lifelong friends. There was also some time for sightseeing which was nice as well.

What inspired this trip to Ireland?

Our CEO at United Way, Carol Burdette, had an opportunity as a young person to travel out of the country and it was a life-changing experience for her. She had the idea that we would travel to Carrickfergus, which is Anderson’s sister city, and hope that in a few years a group from there will travel here to serve with our youth.

Anderson County - Ireland 2014 - 17

How was service utilized in this experience?

The youth spent three days working at the farm, caring for animals, building playhouses for the children’s area and working in the greenhouses – there is a permanent wall that has artwork from some of our youth in one of the greenhouses. They worked alongside those with special needs and also youth who lived nearby.

What do you think the youth learned from this experience?

There are needs similar to those in our community even around the world. They learned that they could share some of the same interests with the youth there also. It was the first time most of them had been out of the United States so the travel experience alone was definitely a learning experience.

Anderson County - Ireland 2014 - 7
Lindsey Loparo, Youth Volunteer:

From a youth perspective, how did this trip expand or change your view of service around the world?

This trip really showed me that there is more out in the world than just my small town. There are people in other countries that have real needs! We got to work with people in a completely different country that are just like us! We learned how to work together and it was just an amazing experience that I will never forget.

What was the hardest part of this experience?

The hardest part for me was traveling. I’ve been on planes several times before but this was just different. I am not a morning person and we were up at the crack of dawn. We went to Greenville airport and flew to Philadelphia. When we got to Philadelphia, we had a 4 hour layover. That didn’t seem like it would be very long but it was. When we got to Dublin (after an 8 hour flight), we were EXHAUSTED, but we still had a 3 hour ride to our hotel in Carrickfergus. Those traveling days (going to Ireland and coming back) were just really long.

Anderson County - Ireland 2014 - 18What was the most rewarding part?

Meeting all the new people! I made so many friends over there and I still talk to a few of them now! I think it is so cool that we had to opportunity to go to a different country, learn their culture and make new friends. We made them sweet tea, taught them how to say “y’all” and in return they gave us Irish candy and made us all “Irish dictionaries” so we could learn their lingo. It was so much fun staying up late in the cafe at our hotel talking to them and learning about them.

How did you apply what you learned in your community?

While we were at the farm, we had to do some things that weren’t exactly “glamorous” (i.e., cleaning out rabbit cages, feeding pigs, running away from crazy geese). So when I came back to the U.S., I used that every time I was put in an “unglamorous” situation, I thought of my experiences in Ireland. If I could feed a 200 pound pig without getting killed, I definitely can sweep the floor, you know?

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

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