I had no intention of moving across the country for a job. But when I came across the opportunity to serve as an AmeriCorps member with Youth Volunteer Corps, the chance to work with youth and inspire them to be lifelong volunteers was enough to draw me 1,800 miles away from my southern Oregon home.
For some reason I had the faith to move across the country after only a brief phone interview for a position in a city I’d never been to, and just weeks later, my little yellow car was filled with everything I owned. It chugged its way up the Rocky Mountains and descended into the flattest terrain I’d ever seen.
I had the opportunity to do more in my first year of YVC than many other people do in the first few years of their career. I networked with dozens of local nonprofits, oversaw a communications strategy, taught a service-learning curriculum at an alternative school, planned a summer service program for hundreds of youth and helped coordinate events.
My year of AmeriCorps service turned into a year and a half on staff with YVC of Kansas City as the Assistant Program Director, and that turned into five years on staff with YVC Headquarters as the Communications and Media Coordinator.
I’ve had the opportunity to visit YVC programs from coast to coast and met the most amazing youth and the adults who empower them.
I launched an International Youth Advisory Board and had the chance to work with 86 youth on this board over the last four years who set such a strong example of service and leadership that adults should be taking notes from them.
I’ve accumulated so many YVC T-shirts over the years that I could wear a different one every day for more than three weeks.
Now seven and a half years after my yellow car arrived at the YVC office, I’m packing up my desk and preparing to say goodbye.
YVC has inspired me, challenged me and formed me into who I am today. The YVC family has been there for me as I’ve laid down roots in Kansas City, gotten married, bought a house and become a mother.
Saying goodbye to YVC is the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, but it’s time for the next step. I’m excited to be joining the Truman Library Institute’s team as Director of Communications.
I’m not the same person I was when I entered the YVC office. I can now lead an icebreaker game for a group anywhere from two to 200 people with no advanced planning or supplies. I know the most efficient way to mulch a nature trail, even in 100-degree weather. I can pack up the inventory of the YVC Store in suitcases to fly across the country for a YVC Summit.
Most of all, I’m forever changed by the inspiring Youth Volunteers, AmeriCorps members and YVC staff I’ve had the privilege of working with. The very first youth I worked with 7.5 years ago have already gone on to college and are starting careers, and now I get the joy of watching them live out the YVC mission of a lifetime ethic of service.
I’m closing the door on my chapter working for YVC, but the best thing is you never have to leave the YVC family. My years with YVC will always be with me, and I look forward to stepping into my next role as an alum, volunteer and donor.
Lacey Helmig is the Communications and Media Coordinator for YVC. She began with YVC as an AmeriCorps member in 2009, where she learned from Youth Volunteers the most efficient way to spread barkmulch, how to play Ninja, and the undeniable fact that youth can change the world.