Monthly Archives: January 2018

A Better Way: Tackling the Opioid Crisis head-on

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In St. Joseph, Missouri, my YVC program is working to solve the problem of safe opioid and narcotic disposal.

Many businesses and community members do not properly dispose of medications in a way that is safe for the environment and wildlife. The most common ways of disposing of medications are flushing them down the toilet, throwing them directly into the trash, or mixing with cat litter and water before they are taken to a landfill. These methods make the medications technically disposed of, but not deactivated, which allows them to potentially seep into groundwater, streams and ponds through water runoff. This contaminated water can have a devastating effect on area ecosystems.

With a grant of $4,000, YVC of St. Joseph ordered 1,100 Deterra Bags and designed a service project to educate local businesses on how to safely dispose of unused medication. Dettera Bags are plastic bags with activated charcoal that, once mixed with warm water, adsorbs and deactivates harmful chemicals in opioids and narcotics making them safe for disposal. Each bag can hold 15 pills and can easily be unsealed and resealed so you can add pills as needed. If the bag dries out, simply add more water.

We made connections with area pharmacies and hospice centers where we distributed our Deterra Bags and information on how to use them. We gave 100 Deterra Bags to our largest hospice center and our local news station did a news story on our project to help educate our community. We also created flyers addressing how to properly dispose of medications and those are now handed out with every opioid or narcotic prescription filled at local pharmacies.

To make it as easy as possible for St. Joseph residents to properly dispose of medications, we host a “Prescription take back” twice a year. Community members are encouraged to drop-off old, un-needed medication and we safely dispose of it in an incinerator.

I’ve seen real progress in St. Joseph as businesses and community members take more responsibility and become more active in the safe disposal of unused medication. They may seem small but these left-over pills can have a terrible impact on our environment and I’m happy to have helped bring about a change for the better in my community.

 

 

This guest blog post was submitted by Leah Craig.

Leah Craig is a sophomore in high school and volunteers with YVC of St. Joseph. She serves as a member on YVC’s International Youth Advisory Board.

 

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Seeing Your Impact in Real Time

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In my opinion, YVC strikes a chord with me when I’m able to see, in real time, the effect that my service is making for the people that I’m helping. I love seeing others smile, and while I graciously accept the thanks, I’m more proud that I was able to provide them with something they didn’t have before, just by donating a few minutes of my time. I would love to coin this type of service as “Tactile Service.”

A form of tactile service I participated in for YVC of Philadelphia was the Honey Festival in September of 2016. Every year, Bartram’s Gardens, a huge plant conservatory located in the heart of the city, invites members of the community to participate in activities and events centered around beekeeping, bee conservation, pollination and honey farming. It gives a spotlight to Philadelphia’s local small businesses and contributes to Philadelphia’s sense of unity.

When I arrived at the event, I helped with introductions, which entailed handing out fliers and welcoming guests to Bartram’s. There were many people from diverse age ranges, and I noticed that many of the smaller kids were eager to join in the festivities. Many were excited about the parade, while others were just happy to have a free apple provided by Whole Foods. Either way, it was great to see that kids were responding so positively to the event.

I swapped jobs with a few other students and worked with my fellow YVC of Philadelphia member, Winnie, to create bee costumes for kids. It was in these moments that I realized how expansive the kids section of the event was. It was located on a luscious green hill, unobstructed by foliage or any artificial structures. Despite its small size, it was the closest thing to a plain I’ve seen in the city and very well kept.

Kids would line up to our small section to create their own bee costumes. I was tasked with twisting together pipe cleaners to make bee antennae while Winnie fashioned together some wings out of cloth. It was a blast, and many of the kids, ages three to six, thanked us for their new costumes. It was one of the first times that I had the chance to see the impact I made on a group of people in real time. The joy present on both the kids and parents faces felt genuine and it was something that I know I directly affected.

That one day of “Tactile Service” is something that I will never forget, and it’s just one of many memories that I hold from Youth Volunteer Corps.

 

 

This guest blog post was submitted by Dante Diggs.

Dante Diggs is a senior in high school and volunteers with YVC of Philadelphia. He serves as a member on YVC’s International Youth Advisory Board.

 

 

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Alumni Spotlight: Ariel Green

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Ariel Green, YVC of Baton Rouge alumna.

Ariel Green served with YVC of Baton Rouge from 2012-2013. She is currently a senior at Southeastern Louisiana University majoring in Social Work with a minor in Management. We caught up with Ariel and asked her a few questions on how volunteering with Youth Volunteer Corps has shaped her life.

What is one of your favorite memories as a member of YVC?

“My favorite memories as a member of YVC were distributing holiday care packages to individuals in the service and meeting new people. Giving out care packages was a humbling experience. It made me better appreciate the work of our soldiers, my necessities and spending time with family and friends. Before this event, I did not realize the extent of military duty, their need for supplies, and the time required away from others. From start to finish the packages were packed with thought and love.

Meeting new people can be a challenge to many. There are many uncertainties and possible downfalls that can take place when forming a new relationship with someone. When I wanted to meet friends at YVC I learned if I would just be myself I would attract the right people. At YVC I met kind, happy, and genuine people. Many workers of the organization were great leaders and examples to the youth. Since stepping out of my conform zone, I have met all kinds of people from different walks of life. This is a great memory because as a member of YVC, I learned no matter what age, ability, or race a person was, we all had the same heart and mission in mind which was to serve.”

How did being a member of YVC affect your life/career path?

“Being a member of YVC has affected my life in a positive way. I am so grateful my mom decided to sign me and my sister up to be a part of this organization. Volunteering at a young age has taught me the importance of giving back and serving others. It has also led me to other great volunteer opportunities. As far as my career path goes, I believe I was led because of my faith, time with this organization, and the influence other people had in my life.  I am currently a senior at Southeastern Louisiana University majoring in Social Work with a minor in Management.”

What is one of your biggest life events from the past 5 years?

“One of my biggest life events over the past 5 years was a change in relationships and acceptance of friends. Many times in life we do not realize that the people we choose to walk with play a major part in our future. For many years I struggled with letting go of peers who no longer added value to my life. I would get so attached to their good company [that] I missed how their friendship did not measure up to mine. Outgrowing people has left me alone many times. During this time I learned that I was being protected from relationships that kept me still and from moving forward. I realized what a true friend was and that people from my past could not go with me to my destiny. I am now blessed with motivated, growing, loving, and true friends. Many of them today have more to offer than the people I left behind like wisdom and truths.”

What’s a unique fact about you that people don’t know?

“One unique fact about me that many people do not know is I can sing. I love to sing around the house and in the car. Growing up I was involved in the youth choir and sang in the young adult choir with my mother. I love music and I desire to be a better singer/soloist. In the future, I wish to continue at singing and perfect my gift.”

Is there anything you want YVC alumni to know about you now?

“I aspire to change the world and minds of many for the better by showing them a new perspective on life. ”

Thank you to Ariel for taking the time to speak with us and share more about her life and how YVC has helped her find her path. 

Did YVC make an impact on your life? We want to connect with you! Sign up for our Alumni Network to connect with other alumni and share your story.

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The Reason for the Season: Service During the Holidays

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After grabbing a sign to hold up next to a bag of food, I was skeptical that anyone in the supermarket would actually contribute their money to the food drive going on next door. As YVC volunteers, our goal was to get people shopping in the Farm Fresh, a local grocery store in Hampton, VA, to buy a ‘Mayflower Food Drive’ bag filled with food, or to simply donate food or money to the cause. We would then transport these premade donation bags to the food drive going on next-door in an open parking lot via shopping cart.

As more people passed by and declined our request to donate, I grew weary that the project was a flop. However, to my surprise, slowly but surely, people began to stop in their path to ask about our project. Strangers would read our signs, ask about our mission, and then donate from the kindness of their hearts.

Although this may seem like an extremely simple project, the profound impact it had on me as a volunteer has changed the way I serve. In awe, I saw Hampton, an area split by many different social demographics, come together to make a collective donation in this Farm Fresh. People united for one common goal: help those on the Hampton Roads Peninsula who did not have enough money to afford a Thanksgiving dinner.

I have come to the conclusion that service during the holidays benefits different groups of people, but moreover unites a community for a common goal. May it be helping the elderly with Christmas crafts, serving dinner to a group of people suffering from homelessness, or participating in holiday gift wrapping for disadvantaged youth, different social, economic, ethnic and political groups can come together to make a change.

I have come to realize, in spite of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, taking an hour or two to serve others makes a real difference, not only in the lives you serve, but also in your own life. Seeing the positive impact that service brings during this time of year puts the real meaning of the holidays back into perspective. As a youth volunteer, this creates a lasting impact and hopefully, these values will be carried on to create a more service-oriented society.

Some may think that asking for donations to support a food drive during the Thanksgiving or Christmas season may be a drag on a Saturday afternoon. But, to others, this is the meaning of the season. The holidays are not about outshining relatives or getting the best gift. They are about service-learning: bringing groups together to learn more about yourself and your community through the gift of giving.

 

 

This guest blog post was submitted by Paula-Ann Robertson.

Paula-Ann is a junior in high school and volunteers with YVC of Hampton Roads. She serves as a member on YVC’s International Youth Advisory Board

 

 

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