Monthly Archives: March 2018

Serving Veterans by serving Honey Bees

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The Golden Prairie Honey Farms (GPHF) is an inspirational and supportive organization located in Manhattan, KS, and I had the opportunity to serve with them earlier this month.

As a part of the SAVE (Servicemember Agricultural Vocation Education) Program, the Golden Prairie Honey Farms helps to transition service members and veterans by providing jobs that are sensitive to their needs.  Some veterans struggle with PTSD and have problems finding stable employment due to high sensitivity to sudden or repetitive loud noises, and/or stressful situations.  GPHF gives these veterans a peaceful environment where they can work without the fear of being rejected or discarded and provides a constructive outlet and helps them to cope with their anxiety while learning new skills as they begin a new stage of their lives.

I was in a group of nine youth volunteers with Youth Volunteer Corps of Manhattan, hosted by the Flint Hills Volunteer Center.  Our task for the project was to create wooden toolboxes made from a handle piece, a base piece, two side pieces, and two wall pieces.  These toolboxes are very similar to the ones that the GPHF staff and veterans use to work on the honey bee enclosures.

We had three stations to go through in the process of creating these toolboxes.  At the first station, we made the walls and side pieces of the toolbox by using a circular saw. At the next station, we used a router to smooth and round the handle. Finally, at the third station, we assembled our toolboxes using glue and a staple gun.

 

With my experience with the Golden Prairie Honey Farms, I have come to a greater understanding of veterans and their problems outside of the military.  It is sad to know that veterans, having done so much for our country, are being cast aside after giving up most of their young lives to the safety of our nation.  With this in mind, the GPHF has become a beacon of hope and inspiration for those veterans who wish to reenter the workforce.  The current veterans working at the GPHF are very encouraging people.  They have shown true triumph in the stories that they told us during our visit.  They deeply care about the lives of the people who leave the military, having gone through tough situations themselves.

I have a father who just retired from the U.S. Army, so I know the feeling of being terrified every time he leaves for deployment.  Questions such as, “Is he going to come back? Will he be the same? Will I even recognize him?” burst into my mind every time he left.  However, I always had hope that he would come home safely.  This is what the Golden Prairie Honey Farms stands for, hope.  The GPHF exudes hope from every aspect pertaining to it.

For this very reason, I decided to volunteer at the GPHF the very next day.  I volunteered for about three hours and helped create frames for beehives.  I started by using two lengthwise pieces and two widthwise pieces.  I used a couple of jigs, glue and screws to assemble them. Overall, I made five beehive frames for the GPHF.

The nicest part, while I was volunteering, was the staff’s courtesy. I felt at peace in the GPHF and I am continuing to volunteer there to give any help I can to the people who help our veterans return to normal lives.  The Golden Prairie Honey Farms is without a doubt an awe-inspiring opportunity to give back to those who sacrifice so much in order for us to live happy and carefree lives.  My appreciation and respect for the Golden Prairie Honey Farms reaches no limit, as well as the care and passion the Golden Prairie Honey Farms shows our veterans.

 

This guest blog post was submitted by Matthew Delashmit, a youth volunteer with of YVC of Manhattan.

 

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YVC Cornerstone Grant Winners

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With great excitement, YVC is thrilled to announce the YVC Cornerstone Grant winners!

The cornerstone is the first stone set in the construction of a foundation, determining the future and stability of the entire structure. The aim of this grant funding is to provide affiliates a “cornerstone” to build upon. Cornerstone grantees receive a $20,000 investment in building successful and sustainable programs in their communities that will reach even more youth volunteers than ever. Totaling to $100,000, this is the single largest grant opportunity ever offered by Youth Volunteer Corps to date.  We are thrilled to recognize the following affiliates, each proven leaders in our network and excelling in unique ways.

YVC of Ann Arbor, MI: Program director, Abbey Davis, has a great vision for the program and was named YVC Ambassador of the Year at Summit 2017. YVC of Ann Arbor is hosted by the YMCA and has been apart of the YVC Network for many years. Ann Arbor leads the network in social justice and service learning, always engaging youth volunteers in quality, intentional discussion and reflection. YVC of Ann Arbor consistently prioritizes strong youth engagement and leadership.

YVC of Charleston, SC: This year, YVC of Charleston had a 71% increase in number of projects and 42% increase in total hours served, and this growth shows how popular the program has become! Program Director, Jennifer Gorham, was awarded YVC Program Director of the year at Summit 2017. While YVC of Charleston has only been part of the YVC family since 2015, the program sets a great example for the entire network, receiving positive media attention and building solid connections in the community. YVC of Charleston will be the host of Summit 2018!

YVC of Danbury, CT: YVC of Danbury was recognized as the Affiliate of the Year at the 2017 Summit – another strong example of excellence in the YVC Network.  The Youth Advisory Board (YAB) helps lead ice breakers, team builders, call agencies and prep projects. Four YVC of Danbury youth volunteers were recognized for their contribution to the community by being nominated by the United Way as Emerging Heroes.

YVC of Des Moines, IA: This year, YVC of Des Moines had an 88% increase in projects which resulted in a 136% increase in total volunteer hours. They were recognized for winning the Project of the Year award at Summit 2017. Service learning is highly valued at YVC of Des Moines which makes their projects top notch. YVC of Des Moines stays creative in their recruitment efforts and even allows youth to sign up for projects via Snapchat.

YVC of Reading, PA: YVC of Reading was recognized as the New Affiliate of the Year at the 2017 Summit. They are a young program in the YVC network but have wasted no time in executing high level programming. Much of Reading’s programming is offered in-school and after-school and with an eye toward expanding the number of weekend projects offered.

The impact of the Cornerstone Grant will reach well beyond these five communities. The aim of this investment is to increase the total number of youth volunteers, service hours and construction-related service projects across our entire network.

According to Forbes Magazine, “For the last three years, the hardest segment of the workforce for employers to staff with skilled talent hasn’t been registered nurses or engineers or even web developers. It’s been the skilled trades – the welders, electricians, machinists, etc. that are so prevalent in manufacturing and construction.” Undoubtedly, interest in the construction industry will grow among youth volunteers participating on these projects across North America. YVC programs across the network are creating opportunities and experiences that impact both community members and youth volunteers alike. This unique and exciting opportunity allows YVC youth volunteers to address community needs and to inspire youth for a lifetime commitment to service! Congratulations to each of our Cornerstone Grant winners. We are proud of you!

This funding opportunity was made possible by the Sunderland Foundation.

 

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