Each of the 30 YVC programs throughout the United States and Canada is unique. For the YVC in Alpena, Michigan, their small-town limitations don’t stop them from hosting a dedicated, fun and successful program with 186 current Youth Volunteers.
Their program is hosted by the Boys & Girls Club of Alpena in a town of highly-diverse individuals. As of July 2014, former Youth Volunteer Matt Muszynski serves as Alpena’s Program Director. He was a member of the Youth Advisory Board in 1993 and initially got involved because of his desire to give back. His office is located at the only high school in the area, which streamlines the recruitment process.
Matt gives us a tour of their YVC program:
What does a typical week look like at the YVC in Alpena?
Every Tuesday and Thursday we walk around the high school to pick up the teachers’ recyclables and put it into the approved recycling dumpster. Agencies we serve on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays rotate between food packing through NEMCSA (Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency), the Huron Humane Society, Elderly Care Homes and any other projects that come our way.
Are you currently planning any big projects?
We are currently trying to get into the local hospital to find new projects. There are a lot of hoops to jump through, but we are excited for the opportunity. We are also working on our senior work day in which our 250 senior graduates will be volunteering to clean up around the high school. Thirdly, we are already planning our summer volunteer projects with the kids.
What is your Youth Volunteers’ favorite project?
The volunteers’ favorite project is when we go out to NEMCSA and pack food boxes for the poor and the elderly. They get to see the impact of their hard work as we pack up to 1,200 boxes of food. I like it for the service-learning aspect. The Youth Volunteers get to see the tangible evidence of their hard work and they always walk away with a smile on their face because of it.
Why have you stayed involved with YVC all of these years?
I liked the way YVC made me feel after doing a project. I felt empowered because I was working to help the community or someone in need without expecting anything in return. I believe it’s important to teach the youth today that they can do the same thing.
How do you keep things fun in Alpena?
We keep things fun by surprising the kids with fun days at the beach or taking them for ice cream instead of doing a project. They get excited when they look at our schedule and see “Surprise Event!!!”
Tell me about your recruitment goal for YVC in Alpena.
At the Summit in October, we were having a brainstorming session about goals. I said that I wanted to recruit 100 new members and everyone in the group raised an eyebrow like I was nuts. With my office at the local high school and us being affiliated with the Boys & Girls Club of Alpena, I felt that was an attainable goal. We already have 65 new members.
Ready to tour some other YVC programs? Check out our previous Spotlights on Anderson County, Ann Arbor, Corvallis, Greater Topeka, Greater Kansas City, Hampton Roads, Iron County, Plymouth, Calgary and Yellowstone County.
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