Monthly Archives: January 2015

Highlights of 2014

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What happens in a year with YVC? Some youth from our International Youth Advisory Board share just a few of their highlights from the last year including unique projects, things they learned and more.

Check it out in their own words:

 

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Martin Luther King Day of Service 2015

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Youth Volunteers all over the country chose to make Martin Luther King Day a day on instead of a day off. Hundreds of youth served with YVC all over the country at all kinds of projects.

Check out what just a few of these Youth Volunteers accomplished:

2014 Annual Report

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Last year, on thousands of projects, Youth Volunteers cleaned up parks, visited the elderly, read to kids, walked dogs at animal shelters and more. Along the way, they changed the world, and they often discovered the experience had changed themselves too.

Read about a few of these incredible stories in our latest annual report:

 

Q&A with Board Member Eric Stiner

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Eric Stiner

We’re excited to welcome our newest board member, Eric Stiner! Eric is a former Team Leader and AmeriCorps member with YVC of Greater Kansas City (he served in 2010-2011). He worked several years in the runaway and homeless youth field, and he now works as an operations manager for Vertical Response.

Eric took the time to answer a few questions for us:

How did you get started with YVC?

At the time, I was looking for two things—number one, I wanted to work for a nonprofit and number two, I wanted to invest my time in youth. I came across the position of Team Leader and it sounded absolutely perfect. It was also going to be my first full-time job, so I wanted to choose a place that would give me a positive outlook on the “real world.” It was a great experience and the more time that passes, the more I’m aware of how much I learned at YVC.

Eric leading a teambuilding game at a summer project at Shoal Creek Living History Museum while serving as  Team Leader in 2011.

What was your favorite YVC project?

My favorite project was working at the Kansas City Community Kitchen. I took a group of Youth Volunteers there almost every week and loved it every time. I enjoyed the projects where I got to work with the same people over a period of time. It was so much fun getting to know them.  I also felt like the Community Kitchen was a great combination of learning and fun.

Why do you like to volunteer?

I truly believe that volunteering does more for the person volunteering than the people that are actually being helped. And I don’t say that to downplay the incredible accomplishments completed by volunteers; I just believe it’s that vital to the development of the person volunteering. When I was working in the homeless youth field, I learned that most people (including me) cannot simply just stop doing harmful stuff; we have to displace it with something else. To me, when you volunteer, you have to give something up of yourself for the benefit of somebody else. The awesome part is that the more you do it, the more it just becomes who you are.

Shoal Creek - Week 2, 2011 (46)

What’s your favorite story from a YVC project?

I’m going to cheat—I have two. The most fun I had as a Team Leader was playing the most epic match of capture the flag ever at Parkville Nature Sanctuary. We had a couple acres around the property, along with several old buildings, and every inch was used to play the game. The Youth Volunteers worked so hard that week, and getting to play around all the work they did was especially gratifying. The second project was at HopeFaith Ministries (pictured below are youth sorting a mountain of donations on Eric’s project at HopeFaith). It was the biggest change I saw youth go through while I was a Team Leader. I remember the conversations at the end of the week no longer involved surface-level observations or generalizations about homelessness, but the youth genuinely seemed to understand the deeper WHY of homelessness. That conversation still sticks so vividly in my mind.

Hope Faith Ministries--Week 3, 2011 (2)

What excites you most about serving on the YVC board?

Mostly just being around YVC more. You have no idea how excited I am to see some of the youth that were 12-13 years old when I was there and now are deciding where they want to go to college. Seeing youth develop and grow are some of my favorite experiences. It’s also very exciting to know that I can utilize all the skills, whether it’s with technology or youth development,  I’ve gained over the last 4 years to help advance the YVC mission. I’m incredibly humbled to even have been considered a board member, much less get the chance to learn and work with them.

Thanks, Eric, for your commitment to YVC and eagerness to serve as a board member! Welcome to the team!

2014 Through the Eyes of a Youth Volunteer

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Rebecca, a volunteer with YVC of Calgary who also serves on YVC’s International Youth Advisory Board, tells us about her year of service and what it meant to her:

 

Spotlight on: YVC of Western Connecticut

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Western Connecticut Spotlight

Congratulations to YVC of Western Connecticut as they just celebrated their fifth year of affiliation! Over the last half a decade, 487 Youth Volunteers have served 76 agencies with 561 projects – a grand total of 12,667 hours of service. Although their numbers were already quite remarkable, YVC of Western Connecticut, located in Danbury, did something unique last summer to spread their impact to a new community.

YVC of Western Connecticut was not only able to increase the number of Summer of Service projects in the Greater Danbury Area, but they expanded their efforts to launch the summer programming 45 minutes away in Stamford, Connecticut. The expansion was made possible by securing three AmeriCorps members to lead the projects in both communities.Stamford Summer of Service_Soundwaters

“I love how unique our program is, we get to do such a wide variety of projects with many different people. I am so blessed to be able to assist many youth in serving their community and helping them feel like they are having an impact,” says Morgan, an AmeriCorps member and YVC Team Leader

Stefanie Docimo, Stamford Program Director, and Casey Levene, Director of Volunteer Service of the United Way of Western Connecticut, spoke with us about how they made it happen:

How long have you, the Program Directors, been involved with YVC?

“I have been involved in youth programming for about two years with the goal of bringing Summer of Service to Stamford for 2014. The overall planning and execution of this programming was my responsibility.”– Stefanie

“Although my work at the United Way for the last eight years has been volunteer management, the YVC program became my responsibility specifically about a year ago.” – Casey

Danbury Summer of Service_Head Start_cropped

So… there were two Summer of Service programs in Western Connecticut. How was this challenging?

“The challenge of having two programs was the distance between the two sites. The AmeriCorps members were based in our Danbury office. This required scheduling them to be in Stamford for specific planning days and site visits. Commuting down 45 minutes for the actual weeks of service proved a challenge because commuting in Fairfield County is a challenge on a daily basis.” – Casey

Stamford Summer of Service_Mayor Martin

Both Summer of Service programs were Tuesday through Thursday –– registration included two t-shirts and scholarships were available upon request. During the three-week program in Stamford, Youth Volunteers cleaned fish tanks and supported marine life projects at Long Island Sound, helped with trail maintenance, playground clean-up and more at the Stamford Museum & Nature Center and also took part in activities supporting city departments at the Government Center.

For the six-week program in Danbury, there were countless programming options. Youth Volunteers…

…learned about the homeless population in Danbury by serving breakfast and lunch, cleaning outside shelter areas and organizing a food pantry with Dorothy Day Hospitality House, Interfaith AIDS, Morning Glory Breakfast Program and City Shelter.

…built park benches and a sandbox and helped with field day and story time at Jericho Partnership.

…worked on gardening projects and helped teachers by working with children as they read, played games, completed puzzles and more at the Early Action Learning Center.

…pressure-washed stalls and learned about rescued horse care at the Akindale Thoroughbred Farm.

…repaired and reset historic gravestones at Wooster Cemetery while learning about history at Friends of Danbury Cemeteries.

“My favorite part of YVC is getting to see the gratitude on the faces of the people we help,” says Alyssa, a YVC of Western Connecticut Youth Volunteer.

As of now, Stamford does not host projects year-round, but they anticipate a 2015 Summer of Service and hope to expand their duration of programming soon.

Danbury Summer of Service_Homeless and Hunger Week

Ready to tour some other YVC programs? Check out our previous Spotlights on Alpena, Anderson County, Ann Arbor, and Corvallis.

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