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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.  

Rock Solid Projects Youth Volunteer Grant

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YVCHQ is thrilled to announce the winners of its first-ever grant opportunity available exclusively for youth volunteers!

The Rock Solid Projects Youth Volunteer Grant was announced at the 2017 YVC Summit as an opportunity for active youth volunteers to take a leadership role in their program by designing an effective volunteer project for their community and then working to secure funding that would make that project a reality. These youth-created and youth-led projects were also awarded by a youth-led review panel.

Members of YVC’s International Youth Advisory Board reviewed every application submitted and discussed their top selections. While each application had something special, IYAB members chose two to make their projects a reality.

YVC of St. Joseph
Award: $300
Application Summary:
YVC of St. Joseph will tackle hunger and malnutrition with their project, “Produce for People!” Youth volunteers will be involved in every step of this project from building garden beds, growing produce and deciding where to donate their food. IYAB members highlighted YVC of St Joseph’s application for providing a very detailed budget and data to prove the project’s potential impact on their community.

YVC of Cedar City
Award: $200
Application Summary:
YVC of Cedar City will address hunger and nutrition in their community with their project, “Food for Thought: Creating a Peasful community garden.” Fruits and vegetables grown in the garden will be distributed to area food pantries to supplement the produce they can offer to their customers. IYAB members praised the project for using Iron County census data to show a real need for it in their community.

Thank you to all applicants. Please be sure to apply for future funding opportunities!

YVC Launches in St. Louis, MO

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Join us in welcoming St. Louis to the Youth Volunteer Corps family! YVC of ST. Louis is hosted by Mid County YMCA. We’re excited to see our network of affiliates continue to grow are expecting big things from YVC of St. Louis as they begin their program.

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YVC Launches in Fargo, ND

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Join us in welcoming Fargo to the Youth Volunteer Corps family! YVC of Fargo is hosted by Family Wellness Fargo. We’re excited to see our network of affiliates continue to grow are expecting big things from YVC of Fargo as they begin their program.

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2017 One YVC Award

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This year, three YVC affiliates, YVC of Reading, YVC of Philadelphia and YVC of Hampton Roads, took it upon themselves to create and execute a regional service project that exemplified the values of diversity and teamwork as they served nonprofit organizations in Reading and Philadelphia, Penn. In recognition of their initiative, YVCHQ has awarded each affiliate with the One YVC Award.

The weekend of service, September 22-23, was the result of nine months of planning, countless phone calls and meetings and the commitment and passion of four incredible YVC program staff.

 

On Friday, these affiliates tackled literacy-focused service projects by constructing Little Free Libraries, organizing a “reading carnival” and collecting and distributing backpacks full of books. On Saturday, YVC youth from all 3 affiliates participated in a Peace Day project, contributing their favorite inspirational quote to a combined piece of artwork (the “thumbprint” of YVC Service), which will be made into a poster and will be sent to each affiliate.

 

Congratulations and thank you to YVC of Philadelphia, Hampton Roads and Reading!

2017 New Affiliate of the Year

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We celebrate every time a YVC program launches in a new community, envisioning how countless youth will be transformed by life-changing service experiences. Each year at the YVC Summit, we honor one of the new programs that launched during the previous year that got off to an especially strong start.

Congratulations YVC of Reading for earning the 2017 New Affiliate of the Year Award! YVC of Reading, hosted by VOiCEup Berks got off to an incredible start with 221 youth serving 1186hours in their first year. YVC of Reading hosted 63 projects benefiting 21 local agencies last year.

This program’s commitment to excellence elevates the quality of the entire YVC network. The leadership of the host organization are lifelong volunteers themselves and their ability to mine their personal networks for resources and support has set the stage for long-lasting success.

Congratulations to YVC of Reading! We cannot wait to celebrate with your program as you continue to grow and serve your community.

The 2017 New Affiliate of the Year was announced during the Award Ceremony at the YVC Summit. We’re celebrating the 2017 award winners this week on the blog. Read about this year’s Affiliate of the Year, Program Director of the Year, Project of the Year, and stay tuned to meet this year’s AmeriCorps Member of the Year, Youth Milestone Award Winners and more.

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2017 Program Director of the Year

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Youth Volunteer Corps of Charleston’s Program Director, Jennifer Gorham, was named Program Director of the Year by the Youth Volunteer at this years YVC Summit.

Jennifer started the program in the fall of 2015 as part of the City of Charleston Mayor’s Office for Children, Youth and Families to provide Charleston youth with opportunities to serve their community and learn about the issues that matter to them.

The program engages youth from the Charleston region, and to date, 149 youth have participated in the program, and have completed 1387.9 volunteer hours serving their community.  Examples of projects include the Lowcountry Blessing Box, which was built by youth and is stocked consistently with non-perishable items that citizens living on Charleston’s Eastside can take as needed; and Ronald McDonald House, where youth have volunteered several times by donating meal items and making dinner for residents staying in the house while their children receive necessary treatments at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Jennifer created a Summer Service-Learning Institute (SSLI) for middle school students that provide four weeks of intensive service-learning volunteer experiences during the summer months.  During the SSLI, students learn about a community issue, and engage in up to four projects each week related to the community issue.  Weekly themes have included Childhood Obesity, Environmental Challenges, and several Wild Card weeks.

“Jennifer has done an incredible job of creating and embedding the Youth Volunteer Corps of Charleston program in the community,” said Mindy Sturm, Director of the Mayor’s Office for Children, Youth and Families. “She is dedicated, motivated, and understands the value of service.  She truly is a servant leader for Charleston youth.”

Congratulations to Jennifer Gorham and YVC of Charleston!

2017 Project of the Year

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Youth Volunteer Corps of Des Moines’ service project was named the 2017 Project of the Year across the YVC network. YVC has more than 30 affiliates throughout the U.S. and Canada, with over 4,000 projects taking place each year, and only one receives this top honor. The Project of the Year was awarded at the YVC Summit in Kansas City, MO., on Oct. 28.

This project, entitled “Winter Essentials”, was awarded the honor because of demonstration of several standards of high-quality service-learning including youth voice, partnerships, intensity, meaningful service, and reflection.

Youth volunteers recognized homelessness as an issue within Des Moines and decided to serve by putting together a total of 30 backpacks full of personal items and toiletries to deliver to people experiencing homelessness. Each pack also included a handmade blanket, hat and scarf. YVC of Des Moines also worked with seven other community support organizations to gather supplies.

Here at YVC we are dedicated to making sure that every service project is not only beneficial to the community, but also presents service-learning in a fun environment, and this project did just that.

Congratulations to YVC of Des Moines!

2017 YVC Affiliate of the Year

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Congratulations to YVC of Danbury, the 2017 Affiliate of the Year! Not only do they earn this top accolade, but this year the award also comes with a $1,000 grant from YVC Headquarters.

Youth Volunteer Corps of Danbury launched in 2009 and since then it has steadily grown, deepening its roots in the Danbury community and expanding its reach throughout Connecticut. They were awarded gold-level status in the 2014-2015 program year and have upheld that standard as a banner program in the YVC network since.

Last year, 143 youth served 2,627 hours with YVC of Danbury. They helped 21 local agencies on 127 different projects.

Commitment to YVC is evident at every level of the organization. A youth representative from Danbury has served on YVC’s International Youth Advisory Board since the group was established. Program staff routinely remark they observe youth mature during their time in the program, making deep connections to one another as they serve together.

Youth voice and youth leadership take center-stage. The name of each youth volunteer is listed in their annual report.

Despite a change in funding, senior leadership at this host organization sought creative solutions to keep their YVC program staffed and funded as they continued to integrate YVC with their overall strategic priorities.

Thank you to the YVC of Danbury staff and youth volunteers for your impact on your community!

The 2017 Affiliate of the Year was announced during the Award Ceremony at the YVC Summit. We’re celebrating the 2017 award winners this week on the blog. Stay tuned to meet this year’s Program Director of the Year, New Affiliate of the Year and more.

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