Monthly Archives: May 2015

Meet Morgan: YVC AmeriCorps Member of Spring 2015

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5.28.15 YVC AmeriCorps Member of Spring 2015 - Morgan Greening

 

Over the years, hundreds of inspiring people have served as AmeriCorps members with Youth Volunteer Corps, enabling thousands of youth to discover the joy of volunteering. We want to recognize our current AmeriCorps members for the incredible work they’re doing every day, so we’ve launched a new quarterly award honoring an outstanding YVC AmeriCorps member each season.

Morgan Greening, currently serving her third term as an AmeriCorps member with YVC of Western Connecticut, is the very first member to earn this honor! Meet Morgan and learn about the impact she’s having on youth in her community:

What is your favorite part about your YVC AmeriCorps service?

There is a special feeling I get when it hits me that I have influenced someone’s life in a positive way. It’s a rare and strong feeling that makes me feel like I matter. My favorite part of my YVC AmeriCorps service is watching the youth realize they are making a positive difference. I love knowing that I help them help others and assist them in feeling like they matter.

How have you grown from your YVC AmeriCorps service?

I have grown in more ways than one all thanks to my YVC AmeriCorps service. I have learned more about myself than I could have imagined including how much I love working with youth but also adults and the environment. I have been surrounded by the best colleagues I could have asked for and I learn from them and their experience every day. My YVC AmeriCorps service has made it very clear to me that I want to fill the rest of my life with the service of others.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s YVC summer program?

I am so excited for our summer program as a whole. I am especially excited to be working with youth all day for the majority of my weeks. I can’t wait to learn from them and experience their perspectives.


 

Morgan’s supervisor, Casey Levene, who is United Way of Western Connecticut’s Director of Volunteer Services, also had a few words to say about her: “Morgan Greening has brought a consistency to our Youth Volunteer Corps program since her arrival in November 2013. Her sunny disposition, commitment to service and our youth is evident on very project she leads. The youth look up to her as a positive role model and she makes each event fun and meaningful. Her creative photos and postings on Facebook and Twitter have increased our exposure. We are thrilled that she will continue service with us through next spring.”

We’ve also heard from a Connecticut Youth Volunteer who can attest to the impact Morgan is having. Morgan told us how one of their regular volunteers came up to her one day to thank her. He said, “Morgan, I just want to thank you for all that you do here, it means a lot that you put in all this effort to help us give back. YVC events are always the best part of my week and I always look forward to coming.”

Thank you, Morgan, for your service to youth and the community! The world is a brighter place because of the impact you’re having.

Interested in serving as an AmeriCorps member with YVC? We have openings around the country. Email Leah to find out about current openings.

 

Meet the 2015 Don and Jean Sloan Scholarship Recipient

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Alyssa Barrett - 2015 Don and Jean Sloan Scholarship recipient - 5Congratulations to Alyssa Barrett, a Youth Volunteer with YVC of Western Connecticut, who was named the 2015 recipient of the Don and Jean Sloan Scholarship!

Alyssa has served more than 130 hours with YVC and also volunteers at other local school and community organizations like National Honor Society. She serves as YVC of Western Connecticut’s Youth Advisory Board President, where she facilitates their meetings and helps plan special projects. She is also a current member of YVC’s International Youth Advisory Board.

“YVC has made me realize that there are people who aren’t as fortunate as we are and need a lot of help,” Alyssa says. “It’s made me a better person, and it’s given me a lot of skills I need for the rest of my life.”

Alyssa has served on all kinds of projects with YVC of Western Connecticut. As YAB President, she led efforts to plan and coordinate a project placing flags around a local memorial on 9/11. Another favorite YVC memory was building a bridge at a nature center for inner city kids—they had to hike a mile into the forest while carrying wood just to get to the project site!

Alyssa will be attending New York University this fall in their Liberal Studies Core Program and eventually majoring in Global Studies. She plans to continue volunteering there and has applied to be a volunteer who reads to children at public schools.

Alyssa Barrett - 2015 Don and Jean Sloan Scholarship recipient - 2

After college she hopes to work for an organization dedicated to helping families in China and India and educate about contraception, abortion and adoption to help reduce the stigma against having female babies.

Thanks, Alyssa, for all your service to your community, and congratulations on the scholarship!

The Don and Jean Sloan Scholarship is available each year for YVC Youth Volunteers. The application for the 2016 scholarship will be available in February 2016.

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Volunteer Project Idea: Senior Olympics

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5.20.15 Project Idea - Senior Olympics

Do you like a little friendly competition between friends? We’ve got a fun project idea that will allow you to bring out your competitive side while brightening up someone’s day. Hold a Senior Olympics event at a local retirement home!

Here’s how:

  1. 1. Identify a local retirement home or senior center that is looking for volunteers to come socialize with their residents. Contact the center (the Activities Director is generally a good person to talk to) to see if they would be interested in holding a Senior Olympics.
  2. 2. Recruit other volunteers who are excited about helping the elderly in a little friendly competition.
  3. 3. Work with the retirement home to plan out some appropriate activities. Some ideas for Olympic sporting events are: Balloon volleyball, beanbag toss, wheelchair races, yoga, etc.
  4. 4. Gather any supplies you might need for your activities. Don’t forget to plan an Award Ceremony with a few special ribbons or trophies!
  5. 5. Create some fliers that the retirement home staff can post around the building announcing the games.
  6. 6. Hold your Olympics!
  7. 7. Thank your volunteers and “athletes” for participating.
Looking for more service project ideas? Check out our other project ideas we’ve posted so far this year:  Scavenger Hunt Food Drive and Park Cleanup, and stay updated on this monthly series by signing up for our newsletter:


Why We are Thanking Your Local YMCAs

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Did you know that one of the three YMCA areas of focus is youth development? Did you know that another one of those three is social responsibility? Local Ys in more than 10,000 communities across the U.S. have made a commitment to advance youth development, social responsibility, and heathy living for community members both young and old. Here’s how:

Overview of Y Programs

Through programs like Youth in Government and Youth Achievers, YMCAs all over the country are challenging youth to develop leadership skills and working to ensure that every youth has access to opportunities to pursue their best possible future. YMCAs are offering opportunities to give back through programs like Togetherhood to connect people to ways to make a difference in their communities.

Some Ys are even using the Youth Volunteer Corps model to combine youth development and social responsibility. These Y YVC programs look a little different as they reflect the specific needs in each unique community, but they all follow the eight YVC Program Standards. Here’s how two Ys, varying in size, are developing youth who are socially responsible this summer with YVC:

Kansas City

YVCKC - Summer 2014 (29)

 

YMCA of Greater Kansas City hosts our local program that offers volunteer opportunities for hundreds of youth a year. This summer they’re offering eight to ten projects to pick from each week. As one of their many day camp opportunities, YVC is a great opportunity for teens to stay involved in their local YMCA even if they aren’t interested in traditional sports. Learn a little more about YVC of Greater Kansas City’s summer program in the Spotlight on Kansas City from last summer and by exploring their website.

Ann Arbor

YMCA Growing Hope, 7-22-14.

 

Ann Arbor YMCA has been hosting the local program for more than two decades. YVC of Ann Arbor offers volunteer opportunities for youth in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and the surrounding communities throughout both the school year and summer. “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,” Ann Arbor YMCA President/CEO (and YVC board member!) Cathi Duchon told us when we talked to her for the Spotlight on Ann Arbor. “YVC has been our Y’s primary youth development program. And, of course, volunteering is social responsibility at the highest level.”

This summer, Expanding Horizons, YVC of Ann Arbor’s intensive summer program, is providing weeklong blocks of service-learning projects throughout the county, reinforcing teamwork skills, appreciation for diversity and civic responsibility.

Thanks to YMCAs who are valuing youth development and social responsibility, just like we are here at Youth Volunteer Corps!

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Spotlight on: YVC of Baton Rouge

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Baton Rouge Spotlight

 

“YVC has made me come out of my shell. I honestly struggled a lot with leadership in the beginning because I was a very shy person, and I never liked to talk in front of large groups of people, or even talk to strangers. I am no longer nervous to talk to anyone. In fact I love meeting and talking to new people.” Sarah, 11th grade, credits her experiences with YVC in Baton Rouge.

Sarah is one of thousands of youth who have volunteered with YVC in Baton Rouge, one of YVC’s longest running Youth Volunteer Corps programs, over the years.

YVC of Baton Rouge offers Saturday projects twice a month, opportunities to serve on school holidays like MLK Day and spring break, and an eight week Summer of Service program. The projects are varied, ranging from retirement homes to arts camps within the community.

And it’s having a true impact on both the youth who serve and the community they’re serving.

Baton Rouge 2015 - 1

One of the most popular projects is Paddle Up Clean Up, where youth paddle boats to clean up local waterways. “The youth see it as paddling around in boats with their friends while helping the environment,” says Victoria Naquin, Team Leader and AmeriCorps member with YVC of Baton Rouge. “It gives them a chance to do something different and exciting.”

Another popular project is Blast from the Past Louisiana History Camp with the West Baton Rouge Museum, which is YVC of Baton Rouge’s longest running summer project, celebrating its 20th year as a YVC project this summer.

“You get to address the needs of your community up front, and have hands on experiences like painting, planting, kayaking, and so much more all while making a difference in the lives of many,” Sarah says.

Victoria ensures that youth have a wide variety of projects to pick from so that anyone can find something that holds their interests. “We play sports with children and adults with intellectual disabilities,” she says. “We also work with a client-choice food pantry and the youth get to help the clients pick out their monthly food allotment instead of just getting a box of food.”

Baton Rouge 2015 - 5

They also incorporate icebreaker and teambuilder games into every project to make sure that youth get to know each other and have fun together.

And these fun components really make a difference, Sarah says.

“A lot of people my age claim that they are ‘busy,’ but really they are just probably watching TV in bed. Come on y’all, volunteering is so much more fun than watching TV!” she says. “I believe if you want others to follow suit and volunteer, you have to be the first domino that starts a chain reaction, which means you need a lot of leadership skills.”

YVC of Baton Rouge is gearing up for their annual Summer of Service, this one bigger than ever. With five Team Leaders coordinating projects, they are hoping to engage 100 to 150 youth. They will have an average of four projects going on each of the eight weeks of the program, and they’re expanding into four surrounding areas instead of just staying in Baton Rouge.

Baton Rouge 2015 - 2

With even more programming this summer, they’re bound to impact even more youth who will have the chance to transform their communities and maybe even themselves.

“Youth Volunteer Corps helps the youth feel like we can still do something,” Sarah says. “There are so many things we are always told, ‘No, you can’t do this. You’re too young.’ That’s not the case with YVC. You get a sense of belonging from just being a part of it.”

Ready to tour some other YVC programs? Check out our previous Spotlights on Racine, St. GeorgeWestern ConnecticutAlpenaAnderson CountyAnn Arbor, and Corvallis.

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