Monthly Archives: March 2016

Congratulations Gold Level YVC Programs!

Posted by Youth Volunteer Corps on

We know that Youth Volunteer Corps programs all over the U.S. and Canada are changing youth’s lives through volunteering every day. Some of these programs stand out as examples for the rest of the YVC Network to follow in the way that their programs engage youth in service.

Each year, YVC Headquarters evaluates Affiliates to discuss together how they can better serve their communities. A few of these Affiliates are going above and beyond and leading the way for the entire YVC network, and they’ve earned the Gold Level rating for scoring between 90 and 100 on their evaluations. They receive a 20% discount off of affiliation dues and are even eligible for a special grant from YVC Headquarters.

Congratulations to the following Gold Level Affiliates:

Alpena, MI

Congratulations Alpena


Anderson, SC

Congratulations Anderson


Ann Arbor, MI

Congratulations Ann Arbor



Baton Rouge, LA

Congratulations Baton Rouge


Calgary, AB

Congratulations Calgary


Cedar City, UT

Congratulations Cedar City



Corvallis, OR

Congratulations Corvallis


Hampton Roads, VA

Congratulations Hampton Roads


Kansas City, MO

Congratulations Kansas City


Muskogee, OK

Congratulations Muskogee


Nashville, TN

Congratulations Nashville


Philadelphia, PA

Congratulations Philadelphia


St. Joseph, MO

Congratulations St. Joseph


Western Connecticut

Congratulations Western Connecticut
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The Second Sunday of Every Month

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Mackenzie Mitchell - Danbury_webMackenzie Mitchell is a Youth Volunteer with YVC of Western Connecticut and a member of our International Youth Advisory Board.

As the clock turns to 7:58 I sit down at my desk, pull out the landline (yes a landline!) and dial in. The automated voice promptly states, “Please announce yourself”.  I momentarily interrupt the buzzing conversation about this month’s holiday plans to say, “Hey guys it’s Mackenzie!”. After everyone else is warmly welcomed, we dive into this month’s topics.

The International Youth Advisory Board is a unique opportunity for the 25 youth that meet once a month to get connected with other YVCs. My favorite part of our meetings is at the start when each member shares what’s going on at our local YVC. I love getting to listen to the versatility of the projects that go on across the U.S. and Canada. Inspiration is inevitable. I have shared many of the project ideas with my YVC and we have even tried some!

Perhaps the most compelling aspect of IYAB is getting to know other volunteers on a more personal level. The cursory discussion before a meeting begins and the Facebook group are especially telling of everyone’s character. It’s exciting to see my fellow members shine in a new and unconventional way. Even those who are sometimes shy like myself, feel extremely comfortable with engaging in conversation.

IYAB at Summit 2015 (13)_web

I have probably flourished the most within my subcommittee. This year I was fortunate enough to be a part of the fundraising committee. I would say fundraising in any respect can be described as stressful, rousing and enjoyable. My three lovely peers, Jack, Ryan and Sophia, have made the committee a blast so far! However not being able to talk in person makes planning something difficult. After a few months of back and forth and checking in with other IYAB members, we have finally settled on a fundraiser that will benefit next year’s summit attendees. It even has a fun bonus for the IYAB member who raises the most money. I can certainly say the stressful period has ended and I can’t wait to see how our work takes shape over the next month.

Overall, my second year on IYAB has been better than I could have imagined. I am learning so much more, meeting and working with tons of new people, and finding new projects every month. YVC is certainly a program that thrives on an international level.

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Finding Your Passion: Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

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3.23.16 Finding Your Passion

Do you love serving on projects like Special Olympics, camps for kids with developmental disabilities, and more? Working with people with developmental disabilities is often one of the most popular Youth Volunteer Corps projects. If you’ve discovered a passion for making a difference in this way, here’s how you can go even deeper.

Need to Know

Developmental disability is a term used to describe a disability that manifests before the age of 22, like cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome or more. These limitations can cause a child to develop or learn differently than a typically developing child. About 6.5 million people in the U.S. have an intellectual disability, which is just one type of developmental disability.

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, so it’s the perfect time to get more involved! Volunteering with people with developmental disabilities can help give them the tools and resources they need to lead an independent life. More likely, you’ll find that you both have a blast getting to know each other and seeing that we all have more in common than you would have thought.

Taking Action

Ready to dive in and get more involved working with people with developmental disabilities? Below are some project ideas that could work with your group or on your own:

  • Volunteer with your local Special Olympics. Help out at their sporting events or become a coach or even a fellow player through a unified team.
  • Connect with your local chapter of Arc, an organization that supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  • Many communities have camps, clubs, and other programs for people with developmental disabilities to participate in, and they’re often looking for volunteers to help! Research to see if programs like this exist in your community.
  • Launch a campaign to promote inclusion and tolerance at your school. Students with disabilities are two to three times more likely to be bullied than their non-disabled peers, so stand up against this bullying starting with your school. Do Something has super easy ideas to help take a stand. Two of our favorites are We Are Able and Safe Space Flag.
Make it a Career

Turn your passion for working with people with developmental disabilities into a lifelong career. Consider one of these possible career paths:

  • Special education teacher
  • Social worker
  • Developmental psychologist

Has volunteering helped you become passionate about working with people with developmental disabilities? Share your story in the comments!

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Meet Mallory: YVC AmeriCorps Member of Winter 2016

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3.14.16 YVC AmeriCorps Member of Winter 2016 - Mallory Rivard

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 serving. We want to recognize our current AmeriCorps members for the incredible work they’re doing every day, so we give out a quarterly award honoring an outstanding YVC AmeriCorps member each season.

Mallory Rivard is serving as a half-time AmeriCorps member with YVC of Bay City, MI, hosted by the Dow Bay Area Family YMCA. She started the program from the ground up and is working tirelessly to connect youth in her community to service. YVC of Bay City launched last fall when Mallory began her service, so she has been working to recruit youth, plan the first projects, and set a solid foundation for this new program.

Meet Mallory and hear about the impact she is having as a YVC AmeriCorps member:

What is your favorite part about your YVC AmeriCorps service?

I love working with our Youth Volunteers. They amaze and inspire me every day. Their hard work, dedication, and spirit to give back to the community is truly contagious. They make me more passionate about my role in YVC and are the reason that I do what I do.

I also think that there is something magical about having the opportunity to be a part of something bigger. I love that there are so many other YVCs around North America. I am so proud to tell people each and every day about YVC and what we stand for.

Bay City 2016 - 3
How have you grown from your YVC AmeriCorps service?

I believe that people working for the common good is what made this nation strong. That is why I joined AmeriCorps.

One of the main selling points of AmeriCorps for me was the professional development. I am currently attending college at Saginaw Valley State University where I am double majoring in Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education. YVC has greatly prepared me for my future career in education. I have learned how to create relationships with youth, motivate a team and how to effectively communicate with families. These are skills that I believe are essential to have in order to be an effective teacher. Additionally, I have learned more about myself than I could have imagined. My YVC AmeriCorps service has helped shape how I view the world and engage with others. I can’t say that I’d be who I am today without the experiences I had while serving.

Lastly, I have been surrounded with the most supportive colleagues at the Dow Bay Area Family YMCA and I am forever grateful to learn from them every day. My YVC AmeriCorps service continues to confirm my passion for teaching and motivates me to influence my future students to give back to the community through high quality programs like YVC. I know wherever I go after graduation, I will always look back and pull from my experience as an YVC AmeriCorps member.

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

I am very excited for the summer program in general! As a new YVC, everything we encounter in Bay City is a new experience, which makes it very exciting! I am especially excited to be working with our youth all day over a series of weeks. I can’t wait to learn from them, experience their perspectives, and create great growth for Youth Volunteer Corps of Bay City!

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

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Hardworking Employees: Employers of National Service

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Summit 2015 (36)

We know that serving through AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps is a life-changing experience that equips people with valuable skills, benefiting them in future roles. That’s why Youth Volunteer Corps is proud to be an Employer of National Service.

Employers of National Service connect AmeriCorps and Peace Corps alumni to employers like YVC throughout the private, public and nonprofit sectors. These employers have increased access to a pool of talented potential employees who have already demonstrated their passion for service. Through AmeriCorps, these alumni have developed leadership abilities such as teamwork and time-management, along with many other transferable skills. It’s a win-win for both of us.

Almost half of the current YVC staff are AmeriCorps Alums, and we have AmeriCorps representation on our Board of Directors. Several former YVC AmeriCorps Members have also begun careers that stemmed directly from their service. We are proud to be an Employer of National Service! If you want to tap into the potential of service alumni too, sign up your business or organization to become an Employer of National Service today.

Building a Career on the Foundation of AmeriCorps

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Victoria Naquin_webHundreds of inspiring people have served as AmeriCorps members through Youth Volunteer Corps over the last two decades. These individuals take a term of service to work alongside our Youth Volunteers, planning projects, recruiting new volunteers, supervising youth on projects and more. They’re changing lives through their service, and often they find their own lives have been transformed too.

In honor of AmeriCorps Week, we’re featuring one of these inspiring people who has helped introduce countless youth to the joy of service. Victoria Naquin served as an AmeriCorps member with YVC of Baton Rouge, LA, from 2014-2015. She loved her service so much (and proved she was a natural at leading volunteers!) that she was hired on by the Capital Area United Way that hosts the local YVC program. Now she is running the YVC program and supervising two AmeriCorps members herself.

Victoria now serves as Dow Corporate Volunteer Manager, working with Dow and Capital Area United Way to plan volunteer projects for Dow employees. “This role is very similar to my former YVC AmeriCorps team leader role,” she says. “I plan projects, recruit volunteers, and attend projects to make sure things run smoothly.”

She also serves as the Program Director for the YVC program that the United Way hosts, which includes supervising the two current AmeriCorps members. When Victoria started as an AmeriCorps member in the fall of 2014, the YVC of Baton Rouge program had been in transition and lacked full-time staff dedication. During her year of service, she built the program back up, planned regular projects, met with the Youth Advisory Board, and recruited new volunteers.


“I started the YVC program back up, and now Emerald and Simone (our two current AmeriCorps members) get to expand the program and bring us to new heights, like our newly achieved Gold Level YVC Program!” she says. YVC of Baton Rouge was recently named one of the top YVC programs in the YVC Network through the Gold Level honor.

Victoria’s AmeriCorps term with YVC was actually her second AmeriCorps experience. After graduating from Louisiana State University as a fitness major, she spent the summer in the Smoky Mountains as an AmeriCorps member with American Conservation Experience (ACE). She spent three months building rock staircases in the national park, living in a tent and hiking 1.5 miles each day to the work site. “When I finished my first term of service I wanted to keep serving,” she says.

Even though her two terms with AmeriCorps were vastly different, they both helped give her experience that’s been crucial in launching her career. “AmeriCorps helped me to develop a wide range of both personal and professional skills that I use in my career on a daily basis,” she says.

“I took a chance with ACE because I love being outside and surrounded by nature,” she says. “It was a great experience. I now have friends around the country and around the world because of ACE. I gained a whole new experience and another family when I joined YVC. What will YOUR AmeriCorps story be? Where will YOU serve and who will YOU meet?”

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YVC Day 2016: Smiles Across North America

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All over North America, Youth Volunteers brightened their communities on Saturday for the first annual Youth Volunteer Corps Day. Our theme for the very first YVC Day was Project Happiness, where we encouraged youth to perform random acts of kindness to spread cheer around their communities.

Here’s what just a few of our inspiring Youth Volunteers were up to:

St. Joseph - YVC Day 3.5.16 (1)

YVC of St. Joseph, MO, took advantage of their city’s First Saturdays festival to hold a traveling photo booth to bring smiles throughout their downtown area.


Hi 5 of love #YVCday #yvcphilly

A video posted by Joy Chiles (@joy_toyourlife) on

YVC of Philadelphia set out on a mission to spread smiles throughout their city, including tossing a “football of love” to passersby and high-fiving those they passed.


Omaha - YVC Day 3.5.16 (3)

YVC of Omaha set up a booth at a local mall for customers to paint rocks with happy messages. They then scattered these rocks around the area for others to find as a happy surprise.


Kansas City - YVC Day 3.5.16 (2)_web

YVC of Kansas City held signs spelling “BE HAPPY” near a busy intersection to bring some smiles in an unexpected location.


Western Connecticut - YVC Day 3.5.16 (4)

YVC of Western Connecticut made bookmarks with positive messages on them and then distributed them at their local library.


Calgary - YVC Day 2016 3.5.16

YVC of Calgary set out to change the name of a major street in their city, from Stephen Avenue to Happiness Avenue. Some 50 Youth Volunteers spread out along the street with all kinds of signs ranging from “Just smile!” and “Have a great day!” to “You’re cooler than pirates and ninjas combined!”

One Calgary Youth Volunteer tweeted the following after his YVC Day experience, and we thought it was the perfect way to sum up the day:

Thanks to everyone who helped make our first YVC Day unforgettable! Save the date for next year’s YVC Day on March 4, 2017!

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Matthew’s Story with YVC

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Cedar City - Scavenger Hunt

YVC of Cedar City, UT, volunteer Matthew attributes much of his success so far in his high school career to the service experiences he’s had with YVC. Matthew (in the picture above on the right) served nearly 800 hours with YVC so far, so he’s had a huge impact in his local community! Hear it in his own words:

By enlisting with the Iron County Youth Volunteer Corps and serving on the youth leadership committee, I have developed a solid sense of volunteerism and participated in a myriad of service projects. Some favorite projects include refurbishing wood at Park Discovery, assisting with the Utah Summer Games and the Tour of Utah, spending time at senior citizen homes, providing vocal or instrumental music at various community programs, collecting canned goods and donations for the needy, reading with children, and restocking shelves at the local food pantry.

Participating with YVC and giving back to my community has allowed me to excel academically, opening doors to leadership roles. One of the goals of YVC is to empower youth to find and solve needs that they see throughout their own community. At my high school, I noticed there was a need to better recognize and serve the student body. This led me to cofounding my schools secret service club titled RAK CV in 2015, which has been a rewarding experience. RAK stands for Random Acts of Kindness. The whole purpose of this entity is to anonymously fulfill the needs of the student body and faculty.

Just as my life has been blessed and shaped by remarkable service-oriented mentors and teachers, I see myself doing the same for younger generations by educating and impacting others’ lives for good. Thus, I am currently considering pursuing a secondary teaching career in music and history. I will be a successful graduated university student, a proactive, professional teacher, and an active member of society who is constantly engaged in learning, serving and becoming better each and every day.

Wow! We can’t wait to see where you go in life, Matthew! Thanks for devoting so many hours to making a difference with YVC!

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Volunteering to Get Into College: Are You Doing It Wrong?

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3.2.16 Volunteering to Help Get You into College - Are You Doing It Wrong

You’ve heard that volunteering is key to getting into college. But did you know that not all community service was created equal? College admissions officers may gloss over some types of service listed on your application, but some may stand out and help position you as a more attractive candidate.

A team of U.S. educators has endorsed a proposal backed by Harvard University that proposes reforming the college admissions process so that it relies less on tests like the SAT and ACT and more on how students have demonstrated their passion for learning and meaningful service projects.

In the nearly three decades that we’ve been coordinating youth service projects, we have seen that the most meaningful service projects have a few traits in common:

  • Long-term: Volunteering a couple hours every week for the whole school year can often be much more transformative than a single weekend or week filled with service. Ongoing service allows you to develop relationships with the people you’re serving and those you’re serving with.
  • Youth leadership opportunities: Who’s leading the project? Do adults run the whole show, or do they allow opportunities for youth to step up to coordinate different parts and help make decisions? Service projects need opportunities for youth to express themselves and voice their opinions while stepping up as leaders.
  • Service-learning: Volunteering isn’t much use for you if you leave questioning whether you had any real impact at all. The best service projects should be meaningful, impactful and teach you something new about your community. Service-learning is a way that we make sure that volunteers always leave our projects knowing how their service made a difference.

Have your volunteer opportunities passed the test? If not, find a YVC program near you to help building up the real, long-term volunteer experience that will make you a top candidate for your top college choice.

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