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YVC Day 2017: Throwback to 1987

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On Saturday, March 4th, we celebrated YVC Day – youth from every single YVC program served “together”  in their communities from South Carolina to Alberta (Canada). In honor of YVC’s 30th Anniversary, this year’s YVC Day theme was “Throwback.” Youth completed some of the original service projects that were done during YVC’s very first summer in 1987.

Here’s what some of our inspiring youth were up to:

YVC of Anderson, SC helped at the United Way’s Read Across America celebration, where they read to children, painted faces, and encouraged a love of reading.

YVC of Calgary hosted a carnival for children with development disabilities. The carnival centered on celebrating YVC’s 30th Anniversary, and children played games with Youth Volunteers.

YVC of Danbury, CT served at the Danbury Museum Archives. They assisted with much-needed behind-the-scenes work by cataloging and categorizing for the archives.

YVC of Hampton Roads, VA spent time at a nursing home, Gardens of Warwick Forest. Youth played bingo with the residents and enjoyed learning about their lives.

YVC of Kansas City served at Homestead of Leawood, where they prepared the grounds for spring, played games with the residents, and decorated for Saint Patrick’s Day.

YVC of Muskogee, OK helped out at Sequoyah State Park. They planted a community garden, cleared trails, prepared a scavenger hunt for children visiting the park, and fed the animals at the Nature Center.

YVC of Manhattan, KS went door-to-door to collect canned goods for the Manhattan Emergency Shelter. They ended the day by delivering cookies to the Manhattan Fire Department to thank them for their service.

YVC of Omaha built garden beds for a community garden in partnership with The Big Garden, a community garden program.

YVC of Philadelphia beautified the Schuylkill Banks Trail in preparation for spring by helping to clean the surrounding area.

YVC of Reading, PA served at South Mountain YMCA Camp, where they cleaned the grounds and painted several rooms in the buildings.

YVC of Saint Joseph, MO spent their day cooking pizza and cookies to hand out to community members in need. Youth passed out the meals to those living in the Haven and Juda House and the women and children living at the YWCA shelter.

Thanks to everyone who helped make YVC Day unforgettable!

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The End of a Chapter

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Lacey Helmig, Communications and Media Coordinator

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.

From all of us at YVC, thank you Lacey, for over 7 years of impact, service and memories. You have made a huge difference at YVC, and your legacy will undoubtedly continue for years to come. Best of luck in the next step in your journey!
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Finding the Joy in Service

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Meet Joy. She graduated from high school last May and currently attends Pennsylvania State University. Joy began volunteering with YVC of Philadelphia two years ago when her mom was diagnosed with cancer.

She says, “I couldn’t control what was going on at home. But out here with my YVC family, I can help someone else and make their day better.” Even after Joy’s mother passed away, Joy continued to immerse herself in service. She served a total of 283 hours with YVC before graduating from high school.

Watch Joy’s video to learn more about her inspiring story of service:

Joy is just one of the 300,000+ youth who have changed the world with YVC over the last 30 years. Stay tuned throughout our 30th Anniversary year to hear more of these inspiring stories and see how our youth are building the future today.

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A New Volunteer Takes the Lead

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It’s only been a year since Dante  began volunteering with YVC of Philadelphia, but in that time he has revitalized a neighborhood splash park, planted potatoes, led a craft table at a festival, hidden Easter eggs and more.

“I first heard about YVC through my school and thought it sounded like an interesting way to find volunteer projects,” he says. “Before YVC, I really didn’t get involved in my community because my school didn’t have a way for us to find volunteer projects. The reason I like being with YVC, after just one year, is I get to meet other students throughout Philadelphia. It’s an amazing opportunity.”

Dante has discovered a passion for service and encouraged others to step up and serve with him. Just a year after he served on his first project, he has served 87 hours on 25 different projects. Not only that, but he was inspired to plan his own project from start to finish.

“His crowning achievement came on August 20th when he led a river clean-up that he planned and organized,” says Greg Lynch, Program Director of YVC of Philadelphia.

Dante worked with the Independence Seaport Museum to design a project to clean the river basin by boat. He had been interning at the museum, so naturally he desired to find a way for his YVC team to serve there.

He helped recruit 16 volunteers who embarked in row boats, paddleboats and kayaks to remove trash from the Delaware River. While using the boats was a practical way to remove trash not accessible by land, the team also had a ton of fun enjoying the water on this unique project!

Not only did the team get to clean up the river, they also learned about river conservation and boating safety.

“Both the museum staff and the YVC volunteers had a great time and were really impressed by the quality of the event,” Greg says. “Dante’s work will serve as a model for future student-led service projects.”

Dante loved that the project was able to change some perceptions too.

“The river gets a bad rap in the city of Philadelphia,” he says. “A lot of people think that it’s dirty, but through the program I was able to learn that we can fix it. That was the purpose of the project, to clean something that people thought was dirty but that I thought was full of life.”

Dante has helped transform the city of Philadelphia, but he’s also seen that service change his own life too.

“YVC has definitely prepared me for my future,” he says. “It’s provided me with the skills to do a service project and to collaborate with others in my community. It’s made me think about how I can help to effect change in my community. It’s taught me to look outside of myself, and the sense of gratitude that comes from helping people is amazing. It’s a wonderful and gratifying feeling—I absolutely love it.”

Dante is just one of the 300,000+ youth who have changed the world with YVC over the last 30 years. Stay tuned throughout our 30th Anniversary year to hear more of these inspiring stories and see how our youth are building the future today.

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Congratulations Gold Level YVC Programs!

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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

 

Anderson, SC

Ann Arbor, MI

Baton Rouge, LA

Calgary, AB

Cedar City, UT

Charleston, SC

Corvallis, OR

Danbury, CT

Des Moines, IA

Hampton Roads, VA

Muskogee, OK

Philadelphia, PA

St. Joseph, MO

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Meet Daniel: YVC AmeriCorps Member of Winter 2017

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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.

Daniel Comer is serving as a full-time AmeriCorps member with YVC of Corvallis, OR, hosted by the City of Corvallis Parks and Recreation Department.

Meet Daniel and hear about the impact he is having as a YVC AmeriCorps member:

What is your favorite part about your YVC AmeriCorps service?

My favorite part of my AmeriCorps service has been connecting with students and serving as a positive role model for them on a daily basis. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the Youth Volunteers and guiding them through many of the same social and academic pressures I dealt with at their age.

How have you grown from your YVC AmeriCorps service?

I think my experiences as a YVC AmeriCorps Team Leader have helped me develop the initiative required to succeed in any professional environment. Much of the program’s success is a reflection of the time and effort I put into it, and I’ve really taken that to heart when I feel I’m becoming complacent or distracted during office hours. I’ve pushed myself to always follow up with contacts and supervisors to ensure I’m creating abundant, purposeful volunteer and leadership opportunities for students.

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

One of my favorite hobbies is meeting new people and exchanging stories, so I’d have to say that’s what I’m most excited for this summer. We have many recurring school-year volunteers, but I’m looking forward to meeting new youth and inspiring them to become year-round volunteers.


Daniel is taking YVC of Corvallis to a whole new level, and it’s been very obvious to Deb Curtis, YVC of Corvallis’ Program Director and Daniel’s supervisor: “Daniel has created more YVC projects in the first months of his service, sometimes as many as 4 in one weekend!” she says. “This has offered more opportunities to youth as well as has brought in a bigger diversity of youth to Corvallis’ YVC program. He has mentored a stronger than ever YAB! Daniel exemplifies what it is to serve as an AmeriCorps member.”

Thank you, Daniel, 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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Happy 25th Anniversary to YVC of Baton Rouge, LA!

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In 25 years of service, there’s no telling how many youth and community members have been impacted by YVC of Baton Rouge. Meet just one of these youth, Mahajebin:

“As a regular teenager it’s important to know that I have the ability to make a difference in my community, and that I can play a valuable role in it. The Youth Volunteer Corps gives me the opportunity to do these things with kids from any background and social status. Not only does YVC allow me to give back to the beautiful city of Baton Rouge, it also gives me the chance to learn more about it and see the world through a more realistic lens.”

(Read Mahajebin’s full story here.)

Mahajebin is just one of the thousands of youth who have served with YVC of Baton Rouge over the last 25 years. They have helped at animal shelters, visited seniors in assisted living centers, cleaned up parks, built homes with Habitat for Humanity, served meals to the hungry and more. Just in the last year alone, 104 youth served 2,601 hours with YVC of Baton Rouge.

These Youth Volunteers have transformed their community, and they have found themselves transformed in the process.

Happy 25th Anniversary, YVC of Baton Rouge! We’re in awe of everything youth have accomplished in the last 25 years and can’t wait to see what they’ll do in the years to come.

Thank you to Capital Area United Way for hosting the YVC of Baton Rouge program for 25 years!

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Happy 25th Anniversary to YVC of Alpena, MI!

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Attend just one project with YVC of Alpena, MI, and it’s obvious to see how profound their impact is on their local community. The Youth Volunteers are called upon to help serve meals, clean parks, plant gardens and so much more.

With 25 years of service to their community, YVC of Alpena youth are known for their energy, enthusiasm, and most of all service.

In the 25 years since YVC of Alpena launched, thousands of youth have made a difference in their community, and they’ve found that this service has in turn transformed them.

Happy 25th Anniversary, YVC of Alpena! We’re in awe of everything youth have accomplished in the last 25 years and can’t wait to see what they’ll do in the years to come.

Thank you to Boys and Girls Club of Alpena for hosting the YVC of Alpena program for 25 years!

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Honoring a Legacy: MLK Day of Service 2017

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Earlier this week, hundreds of Youth Volunteers chose to turn their day off into a day on for service. Youth Volunteer Corps teams across the country honored Dr. King’s legacy by serving their communities to make their piece of the world a little bit better.

Check out what just some of these inspiring Youth Volunteers accomplished:

YVC of Reading, PA, planned an MLK Day celebration for two branches of their local Boys and Girls Club that involved crafts, games and more.

 

YVC of Hampton Roads, VA, helped with yardwork and maintenance at a local family homeless shelter.

 

YVC of Kansas City, MO, planned an MLK Day of Service activity for kids at Y Club, where the youth helped the younger kids through a variety of service stations to help their community.

Thank you to everyone who made a difference in honor of MLK Day of Service!

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On Presence: Notes from a Team Leader

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The following is written by Surline Jolicoeur, an AmeriCorps Member and Team Leader with YVC of Danbury, CT.

This past weekend, our YVCers took part in a kindness project for Ben’s Bells in Bethel, CT. As the snow flurries descended from the sky and created a coat of white fluff on the ground, the Youth Volunteers and I barely noticed as we became enraptured in the moment that we were in.

In a world where everyone’s attention is always divided due to the distractions that bombard us daily, it is rather rare to spend over an hour and a half enthralled in great conversation.

Typically, as a Team Leader, I make it my mission to capture the moments of our volunteers serving their communities and that day was no different. In other words, my phone is always on me or in my hand poised to take a picture. I planned on taking numerous photos of our amazing YVCers to put up on our social media. However, once our project began, I decided that I wanted this project to be different. I took my phone out of the vicinity because I wanted the next hour or so completely dedicated to them.

It. Was. Magical.

Our youth have so much to say in regard to what they think, feel, and aspire to be. However, rarely do adults take the time out to really listen. We often rationalize it by simply stating, “They do not know what they are talking about. They’re still young.”

We couldn’t be more wrong.

In the span of an hour and a half, I sat enthralled at the sheer wisdom that these young people possess. They think differently, yes. But, that is what makes them so awe-inspiring. They love the arts, music, history, philosophy, STEM and numerous other things since they constantly want to be learning something new.

Let me put it this way:

How many times a day do you type a question in on Google simply because you are curious as to what the answer may be? If you all are anything like me, I would say numerous times per day. Our Youth Volunteers do the exact same. They are thirsty for knowledge and insight on what the world has to offer but that often gets lost in the belief that they only care about superficial things.

As Team Leaders, it is our job to reinforce and encourage that quest for knowledge and information within our Youth Volunteers. Teaching them that they are exactly who and what and where they are supposed to be goes a long way as well.

Therefore, I urge all our Team Leaders to put down the phones and give yourself a chance to experience what I did this past weekend. In that small studio tucked away behind a small shopping center with the snow falling in earnest, I learned a very valuable lesson that I will always carry with me…“Wherever you are, be all there.” -Jim Elliot 

Thank you, Surline, for these wise words and for all you do for youth and the community!

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