Monthly Archives: July 2018

Before and After – Community Garden

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One of the biggest things that initially made me unmotivated or unenthusiastic about volunteering with YVC was that I didn’t see the “endpoint” or “goal” of the work we were doing. Of course, it is incredibly satisfying to see something you worked hard on reach its goal. However, when volunteering in most places, this is rarely the case. This is because the progress and change through volunteer work, in most cases, takes time. A very strong example of this lesson that YVC taught me was when I worked in a community garden.


The first “step” of my experience working there happened in May, when we cleaned and weeded beds for planting. I didn’t think very far into to the future of what would happen to the bed at that point in time, so I didn’t really think of how useful it might end up being to the garden. The work was relatively easy, but by the end of it, I didn’t feel as if I made a huge difference in my community. This was because I didn’t really see it benefiting anyone immediately.

However, during a summer YVC camp in late June I saw the bed, only it was overgrown with strawberry plants. We were told to pick the strawberries so that they could be given to a local food bank. The work was suddenly easier than the weeding project I did in May, because each time I picked a strawberry, I held the result of all the work in my hand. I had that feeling of satisfaction that I did make a difference in my community because I knew that those strawberries would eventually find their way to the food bank and then, finally, into the hands of someone who needed them.

That experience changed the perspective I have on volunteer projects that seem to be incomplete. Instead of looking at projects like the seemingly incomplete one in May as useless because they don’t seem to have any immediate effect on the community, I began to look at them as if they were a step on the path to completion. In the garden experience I shared, there are a lot of steps within it to reach the end goal. First, we had to weed and clear the beds. Second, someone, most likely other volunteers at the community garden, had to plant the strawberries. Third, someone had to pick them, and later, of course, they would have to be sent to the food bank and distributed. Even in this example, I “skipped” steps that would lead to the overall goal, such as the planting and sending the strawberries to the food bank. This experience gave me more patience when it came to seeing the progress made on volunteer projects, as each project was just a piece of the puzzle.

One of the coolest parts of seeing the “before and after” part of the process was that I got to experience the result of what I did and worked on. This really motivated me to work hard on any project, even if it seems like it doesn’t make an impact immediately. This was because I saw that all of the projects eventually make a difference, just some faster than others.




Ian is an active youth volunteer with YVC of Corvallis.

He currently serves on YVC’s International Youth Advisory Board

and is a YVC Brand Ambassador.


My Summit Experience

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When I first arrived at YVC summit I was greeted by some of the most energetic, positive people that I’ve ever met. The team leaders, adults, and all the volunteers were super welcoming and helpful. Summit embodied the true meaning of YVC perfectly and helped show me what volunteering is all about. Before going to YVC summit I loved to volunteer and I figured it would be something I would always try to do, but after going to Summit I realized the true importance of volunteers and I was inspired to work even harder with my YVC program and other volunteer projects in my community when I went home.


A YVC project has an icebreaker, a volunteer project, and the service learning aspect. Summit incorporated all three of these elements.
There were people from different cities, backgrounds, ethnicities, races, and socioeconomic statuses all coming together in a conference center in Kansas City. At first, I felt like we were all super different, it was one of the most diverse rooms I’ve ever been in; but then, I realized that being a part of YVC and having a passion for volunteering is what truly unified us. Through icebreakers and games, everyone was able to get more comfortable around each other and get to know one another. Summit offered a lot of free time where we were able to spend time with other volunteers and go out around the city which was really fun! It was eye-opening to meet so many different people and hear their stories.


Summit had service projects incorporated into the event and we were able to volunteer in the community. The cool thing about volunteering at Summit is that you get to learn about a different community’s needs rather than your own. It was a cool experience because I live in a pretty small town, so to go to a bigger city and volunteer showed how me how needs can be very different based on the location.


There were lots of opportunities for service learning spread throughout Summit that were educational and engaging. There were different lectures, lessons, and workshops to get youth volunteers learning! It was super cool how the lectures and lessons were applicable and relevant to our own lives. I went to a grant writing workshop and I learned how to appeal to different businesses. When I returned home I was able to use the knowledge to get sponsorships for an event my school put on! There were lots of really talented speakers at Summit, including youth. It was really meaningful to see so many people speak so passionately.


The YVC Summit has been one of the most memorable things I have ever done. Getting to meet so many amazing people who all share a common passion isn’t an opportunity youth can frequently find. Anyone affiliated with YVC in any way would benefit by going to Summit to further their love for volunteering.


Jessica Hovermale is an active youth volunteer with YVC of Corvallis

and has served on her local Youth Advisory Board for two years.

Jessica is an active member of YVC’s International Youth Advisory Board.

Alumni Spotlight: Sheliza Kassam

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Alumna Sheliza Kassam working with her nonprofit, Children’s Birthday Miracles










Sheliza Kassam was a youth volunteer for the YVC program in Calgary, Alberta from 2009-2015. Sheliza is now a Drilling & Completions Engineering Intern at CNOOC Nexen Ltd, and she founded a charitable organization in January 2013, Children’s Birthday Miracles. We caught up with Sheliza and asked her a few questions on serving with YVC youth shaped her life. 

What is one of your favorite memories of YVC?

One of my favorite memories of volunteering with YVC through Youth Central, our host organization, was a program we did that allowed me to peak as a leader. I served as a co-chair of the Mayor’s Youth Council and was one of 20 youth that represented the city and worked with the Mayor to find solutions to issues concerning youth. We saw other cities take part in similar programs and I was driven to see it begin in Calgary.

I’ve been fortunate to have an incredible mentor, Ros Doi, who has been with me since my time at YVC through Youth Central and has supported me in my career. Her support has allowed me to start a program in Calgary that allowed students from grades 6-12 to act as a mayor for the day. Our committee reviewed applications and sent our top choices to the mayor, who chose the final student. This student got to act as mayor for the day and lead the program and have their voices heard. It was an incredible program for me to be a part of. It really allowed us to hear what students had to say and have a student representative to act in a leadership role. Even the students who weren’t selected still had their voice heard, as we incorporated their ideas into our strategic planning for future projects.

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

YVC greatly strengthened my communication skills. People often question the connection between engineering and communication, but most people don’t know that it’s important to be a social engineer. We need to see more people bringing together their communication skills and technical work – if you can’t communicate your ideas well, it won’t of benefit to you, your work, or your team.

Volunteering with YVC helped me articulate myself and present myself well in a professional manner. It also taught me how to empathize with others, communicate effectively, and build relationships in the workplace through the industry and through volunteering. I am now able to build valuable relationships with my coworkers. People often underestimate how important it is to build these relationships in the work place. When you volunteer, you’re meeting with a diverse group of people that you otherwise would maybe never connect with, like the homeless or children with disabilities. At the end of the day, you have to transform yourself to relate to these people. This teaches you something incredible.

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

In March of 2017, I had the opportunity to be recognized as one of L’Oréal Paris Canada’s 2017 Women of Worth. This was an incredible honor as I was chosen as one of 10 women across Canada, and I received a $10,000 grant for my charity. I had the opportunity to go to Toronto to network with the nine other inspirational women who are also not getting paid for what they do. These women are working pro bono and out of the goodness of their hearts to make an impact on their communities. Because of this opportunity, we were able to start a chapter in Victoria created by Sarah Nolin, and receive a sponsorship from Google. It was such an honor to be named one of L’Oréal Paris Canada’s first ever Women of Worth.

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

I’ve been Bollywood dancing since I was three! Bollywood dancing is a huge passion of mine. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to dance as much with my busy schedule, but I try to take a class every now and then when I have time. I used to love to perform, and now I try to choreograph a few pieces of my own whenever I have a free moment in my schedule.

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

I would love for alumni to know a bit more about my charity, Children’s Birthday Miracles (CBM). CBM is a charitable organization aiming to ensure that underprivileged children have the opportunity to have a birthday party. We throw birthday parties across the globe, and I truly believe we are making a difference. People underestimate the need for birthdays. There’s so much power to a birthday and I have so many wonderful stories and memories because of it, and I wouldn’t have started this without YVC and my experience with volunteering at shelters in my community. It can be very humbling to volunteer here, when I get to go and see how grateful kids are when their birthdays are celebrated.

I also like to remind people to know who you are, and don’t let your age play a factor in if you can do something or not. That’s the beauty of life! If every youth had the mindset that they could do anything they wanted, we could do incredible things.

If you’d like to learn more about Sheliza and Children’s Birthday Miracles, visit her website at:

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

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Direct Volunteering vs. Indirect Volunteering

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I have volunteered with YVC Philly since 2015 and in that time, I have learned quite a number of things. I  have grown as a person and a leader. I have grown more comfortable with myself and have gained a bit of confidence in public situations. Most importantly, I have learned about the issues within the communities of the Philadelphia area and different ways to address them through direct and indirect volunteering.

When people think of community service or volunteering, their thoughts typically gear more towards more typical events such as working in soup kitchens, cleaning up parks, or sorting foods that will be packaged. I like to think of these activities as forms of direct volunteering. It is a way to become directly involved, to be in the middle of the action, so to speak. There is a lot that can be learned just from being there and actually speaking to the people you’re serving.

One of my favorite annual projects is with the Jewish Relief Agency. We wake up at early hours and then spend a few hours in a huge assembly line (that runs very smoothly) to package various kinds of foods in cardboard boxes. We would then load the boxes onto a bus and drive to an elderly home to deliver them. I love being able to see the process from start to finish, from gathering all the pieces together to handing it to an individual and seeing the smile on their faces.



The other form of service can be referred to as indirect volunteering. This probably sounds a little weird. I see it as doing something that will make a difference even if you can’t quite see the end result. A lot of time, it deals with raising awareness about a cause.

I remember working on a Global Leadership project last year. The main objective of Global Leadership is to address an issue in another country and somehow devise a service project to support it. My group had chosen to focus on poverty and hunger in India and we struggled to figure out a project. After all, what could we actually do from half a world away; we couldn’t actually fly there and hand out food (well, not without a whole lot of funding). Instead, we created pins to bring awareness towards the issue. While we couldn’t directly help, it was keeping the issue alive so that it wouldn’t get swept under the rug of the world’s problems.



My first ever project with YVC also deals a lot with indirect volunteering. Every year, we work with Student Rebuild in which we submit certain artworks to raise money for a cause. That year, we were creating pinwheels in support of the Syrian Refugee Crisis. I believe that every pinwheel that we created was $2 towards the cause. While we weren’t actually able to directly help the refugees, I still felt the camaraderie between the volunteers because we knew that our cutting and folding was helping someone.



To me, direct and indirect volunteering are equally as important. They overlap each other in so many ways. Sometimes, you can be the one working in the communities you want to help. Sometimes, you simply don’t have the means to help directly but it doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything. It’s a way of empowerment, a way to show that you can make a difference no matter your circumstance.




Jessica Jiang is an active volunteer with YVC of Philadelphia. She is a

YVC Brand Ambassador and serves on the International Youth Advisory Board.


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