Leadership Snapshot:

Posted by Youth Volunteer Corps on

Youth Selected for YVC’s 2019-2020 International Youth Advisory Board (IYAB)

Hello! My name is Martina Min and I am from Calgary, Canada. I am excited to be a Co-Chair on the International Youth Advisory Board (IYAB) this year! This is my fourth year serving on IYAB and my fifth year as a youth volunteer with YVC. Volunteering has been a huge part of my life, in the last couple of years, and being able to volunteer and serve as a leader has made a big impact on my life. Additionally, the leadership opportunities I received made me more confident and have inspired me to help build that confidence in others.

Before I applied to be on IYAB, I volunteered for about a year in grade 8 and had started to become a more confident leader in my community. When I heard about IYAB, I knew I wanted to be even more involved, so I took the chance and applied. During the first year, I grew as a volunteer and leader. I learned more about volunteering, service-learning, YVC and, other youth volunteers! It was a great opportunity for me to get to know volunteers across North America and to share my personal experiences as a volunteer.  The following year, I reapplied and tried to be more involved during the meetings. As I continued, I became comfortable and engaged in the meetings; I was enjoying my experience even more! I was so excited to bring ideas back to my YVC and share my experiences with the volunteers in Calgary. I had so much fun discussing theme ideas for YVC Day, learning more about grants and what to look for in an application, and discussing important topics like social media and youth engagement. I love the idea of being able to represent youth volunteers across North America and be able to connect with other youth who are just as passionate about volunteering and service learning as me!

During my third year on IYAB, I was given the opportunity to be a part of the executive team within IYAB. We were able to create goals for IYAB, lead different sections of the meetings like icebreakers or the project showcase, and help make IYAB more youth-led! This year we were also given the opportunity to be involved with the selection process for new members. Being able to go through the applicants for the 2019-2020 term gave me a perspective into what it looks like on the “other side” of applying to opportunities or positions. It was interesting to see how unique each application was and how different characteristics made certain people stand out. It was an amazing opportunity to see leadership qualities and dedication in youth across the YVC network as well! I am very excited to be on IYAB for the 2019-2020 term and I am also excited to take part in the different initiatives and projects IYAB comes up with this year!

Congratulations to each person selected to be part of the 2019-2020 International Youth Advisory Board. Let me be the first to welcome you to this exciting group.


-Martina Min, IYAB Co-chair, YVC Calgary


IYAB Executive Team

Connor Lang, Calgary

Martina Min, Calgary

Malorie Hunt, Cedar City

Ian Gimino, Corvallis

Jessica Hovermale, Corvallis

Leah Craig, St. Joseph


IYAB Members

Brett Budnik, Alpena

Alison Tucker, Anderson

Anisha Fujii, Ann Arbor

Iliana Cutten, Calgary

Masilan Sundara, Charleston

Viktoria Wulff-Andersen, Danbury

Vidya Iyer, Des Moines

Elena Stevens, Hampton Roads

Ciara DeMorier, Hampton Roads

Caroline Lubbe, Kansas City

Ava Reese, Manhattan

Dilanka Ranaweera, Manhattan

Qinlan Moc, Philadelphia

Rahul Balakrishnan, Plymouth

Shruti Balla, Plymouth

Jace Bausher,Reading

Claire Kellick, St. Louis

Boosting Your Resume with Volunteering

Posted by Youth Volunteer Corps on


Many people don’t think of volunteering as something to talk about with colleges or employers, but showing up to volunteer in your community tells a lot about your personality and can boost your resume! First, volunteering demonstrates a large amount of leadership skills. It tells people you are willing to step up and help out with challenges you see. On projects, nothing will get accomplished if there are no leaders offering ideas and helping to guide people towards a solution. This doesn’t mean you have to be the most vocal on a project. Leaders will often delegate tasks in order to see that a project is completed on time and correctly. The most important thing I learned about leadership in college is that leaders are nothing without a strong team.

This leads me to the next thing volunteering demonstrates on a resume. Volunteering is often a team effort and shows you can be successful as a member of a team. There are many benefits to this team-based approach. With that boost from your fellow volunteers, time passes by faster and work gets done with ease. Working on a team also means you can get along with other people and are willing to compromise when issues come up. This is not to say that volunteering on your own is not possible; however, many projects are a team-based approach to meeting community needs.



Adding volunteering to your resume also shows great time management skills, as you set your priorities in helping the community instead of playing another round of Fortnite or binge watching your favorite show on Netflix. People will appreciate that you took the time to serve meals at a homeless shelter for a couple of hours on a Saturday morning or built dog houses for your local Humane Society. Time management will set you up for success in college when you have a very flexible schedule and go to class only a couple of hours a day.  This skill is a crucial skill for becoming an effective employee.

In addition, volunteering builds adaptability. For a multitude of reasons, volunteer projects are not always predictable. For example, it could be raining on the day you were going to do landscaping or you don’t have the right supplies to paint your city’s mural.  Situations like these lead to problem solving. You have to figure out how to make the day a success, even when missing resources and responding to things outside your control – like the weather. You may have to think outside of the box or be creative. These are definitely skills people want to see on your resume. The ability to problem solve and adapt can be transferred to all situations in life.



It’s also very important to include any service awards or distinction you received from volunteering. Did you just get your 100 hours of service or were you honored as YVC volunteer of the year? Put it on your resume! It shows that other people recognize the work you are doing and want to celebrate you. This one can be the hardest sometimes because usually volunteering is about doing good things even when no one is rewarding or paying you.

“Often we set out to make a difference in the lives of others only to discover we have made a difference in our own.” —Ellie Braun-Haley

We may start a volunteer project to help the seniors in our communities or to improve the environment by helping clean an ecosystem, and we end up learning more from it than we ever thought possible. Don’t discount the value of a project just because you didn’t get paid to do it. I encourage you to volunteer and to include the skills you learn while doing service on your resume.

Boosting Your Resume with Volunteering


Hello everyone! My name is Kaylee, and I’m a part of the YVC Headquarters’ team! I just graduated from Wichita State University last year, and with graduation came change in every direction. Going to classes, writing papers, and studying for exams have been my normal for the past 13 years, and often times it felt like school was all I had time to concentrate on. I remember in high school my life consisted of two things: school and extracurricular activities. When I was applying for colleges and going to scholarship competitions, I started noticing a common theme: people wanted to know what skills I had gained from jobs, internships, or high school classes. I always felt behind because I didn’t have any jobs in high school. I focused on my academics and didn’t realize until college that I had missed talking about a key element in my life: volunteering in my community!


An Unlikely Beginning: Kickball and a Babydoll

Posted by Youth Volunteer Corps on

Looking back, the stars aligned perfectly for me to begin my service with YVC when I was in 7th grade. My social studies class was having a debate with the topic “should volunteer hours be required to graduate high school?” Naturally, I was on the affirmative side! The particular class that I was in met for the beginning of class, broke for lunch, and then finished our class period after lunch. On the exact day of our debate YVC representatives were in the cafeteria recruiting for the upcoming summer! I took this opportunity not only to sign up for service, but also to invite all of my classmates to join me! Little did I know a lifelong relationship to service would be sparked in the cafeteria of my middle school.



My first service experience was at a local camp for children with a variety of disabilities. One morning we were playing a game of kickball with campers when Jessica* didn’t want to participate. Jessica always carried a special doll with her, and I had the idea to tell her the doll wanted to go up to bat! I had the doll kick the ball and run the bases, which inspired Jessica to join in! Doug and Lisa, two of the staff members, asked me afterwards how I had thought to do that. It was a very instinctive choice that I couldn’t explain very well… but, their reactions made me feel like I might have a special skill or talent in working with people, especially those who may need special accommodation. I went on to volunteer at camp for almost every summer until I graduated high school, when I was hired to work as a lifeguard! Even now, I visit camp every summer and see many of the campers that I’ve grown up with.



I can look back in my life and recall the moment with Doug and Lisa as a springboard for me. Their confidence in me as a capable person and their support was a foundation for me to set high goals for myself. Because of my YVC experience at camp, I knew I wanted to go to college and what I wanted to study while I was there! I ended up changing my mind several times, which in the end worked out wonderfully. While I was in college, my experience volunteering at camp really prepared me up for success in collaborating, taking direction from others, and finding a common purpose within communities. I’m so grateful for the lifelong friendships, the experience afforded me, and the many doors of opportunity that were opened because of YVC. I am also thankful for my mentors and guides through life. They watched me grow up at camp and helped me become the person I am today.


“Compassion is not a virtue — it is a commitment. It’s not something we have or don’t have — it’s something we choose to practice.” -Brené Brown


Kaite Young-Kendall grew up on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan in Muskegon, Michigan. She earned her Bachelors of Applied Arts in Child Development from Central Michigan University and has since worked in a variety of roles with children such as a full time National Service member with AmeriCorps in a Head Start, with the Children’s Defense Fund program Freedom School and currently is an early childhood educator at the North Campus Children’s Center and the Children’s Program Coordinator for local nonprofit, Friends In Deed. Kaite has a deep passion for serving toddlers and their families, as well as supporting families with anti-poverty education. Most recently she presented at the Learning Stories conference in Orange County, California. Kaite is looking forward to starting a Master of Social work program at Eastern Michigan University in the fall. Kaite resides in Ypsilanti, Michigan with her partner, Tim, puppy, Lola Jean, and cat, Kim.

Why Do I Volunteer?

Posted by Youth Volunteer Corps on



With the flutter of senior year and college applications, I was forced to sit down and evaluate the last four years of my high school career. I really reflected on my activities, especially, my experience with Youth Volunteer Corps.

Every time I thought about it, the memory of my first project was most clear. Images of cutting and folding papers to create pinwheels side by side with teenagers from across the city. Remembering the smiles and laughter of everyone and knowing that we were making a difference in the small conference at the local library. Then, I thought of the smiles of the elderly as I delivered their food the first time four years ago and the exchanges made between complete strangers while packing the food. I also remembered people who were not afraid to ruin their clothing going into the river to ensure all of the plastic was cleaned up from the waterways. And, I reflected on laying the final pieces of the Rosewood home floor in Houston, TX. The memory reminds me of everyone’s proud faces.



It felt impossible to consolidate all of this into two hundred, three hundred, or any amount of words and honestly, I could not.

What I realized is that, firstly, I do not regret any of it. There were mornings that I wanted to sleep in but instead got up and volunteered, which only helped me grow as a person. There were even times that my mother insisted that I study more instead of volunteering. Through it all, I knew I was making a difference – even if it was a small one. I knew that the time could be spent putting a smile on someone’s face. Secondly, I realized no one experience could capture all of what YVC means to me. Picking one story or event felt as if I was discrediting the others. YVC is a learning journey, to me, and you cannot have one story without the one that preceded it or followed it. YVC helped me grow as a person, leader, and member of the community.



Every hour with YVC brought me out of my shell and closer to the communities that surround me. Every minute allowed me to connect with people from across the city, and Northern America, that I would definitely not have met otherwise. Every second was spent with volunteers that were family, no matter if they were new or old.

Why do I volunteer? I volunteer to make an impact on the communities that have fostered my growth. I volunteer because I love it. I volunteer to help people.


My name is Jessica Jiang. I have been volunteering with YVC in Philadelphia since 2015. My hobbies include baking (especially when stressed), editing videos, messing around with technology and of course, volunteering. In college, I hope to major in computer science or engineering. I am very much not a morning person and tend to be more productive during night hours.







Mental Health Benefits of Volunteering

Posted by Youth Volunteer Corps on


Although volunteering and philanthropy are generally directed towards the health of society rather than an individual, there are many personal benefits to helping those around you. On a personal level, I have found the volunteering I have done through YVC extremely gratifying. It feels nice to help others in a way that is extremely personal; I often get more out volunteering – lessons or experiences – than I feel I give.

Studies have shown that those who donate time feel socially connected. It allows people to ward off loneliness and even depression. There are many factors involved in mental health problems, which often can’t be solved with volunteering alone. However, volunteering can have many positive effects on an individual’s life. Volunteering can also positively impact the physical health of a person. A growing body of evidence suggests that people who give their time to service may experience lower blood pressure and an extended lifespan. In a recent study from Carnegie Mellon University, adults over 50 who volunteer regularly are less likely to develop high blood pressure. High blood pressure is associated with heart disease, stroke, and premature death. This study does have some missing information, as people who volunteer may be more likely to eat healthier or exercise, which is also associated with lower blood pressure.

Volunteering itself can increase physical activity, especially in people who aren’t otherwise active. According to the lead study author Rhodesia Sneed, a doctoral candidate in social and health psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, it may also reduce stress.

“Many people find volunteer work to be helpful with respect to stress reduction, and we know that stress is very strongly linked to health outcomes.”

Researchers are still trying to provide the specific characteristics of volunteering that provides the greatest physical health benefit. In the Carnegie Mellon study, they found that 200 hours of volunteering a year significantly lowered blood pressure. Other studies have found that as little as 100 hours provided similar benefits. Sneed speculates that mentally stimulating volunteer activities, like tutoring or reading, might be the most helpful. These activities may help maintain healthy memory and thinking skills, while

“activities that promote physical activity would be helpful with respect to cardiovascular health, but no studies have really explored this.”

A 2012 study by Sara Konrath, Andrea Fuhrel-Forbis, Alina Lou, and Stephanie Brown published in Health Psychology found that individuals who volunteered regularly lived longer, but only if their intentions were truly pure and related to the betterment of society as a whole.

As March is Mental Health Awareness Month, it is extremely important to recognize how volunteering can improve the overall health of a community, and also the mental health of an individual. Many of my absolute favourite projects have related to mental health, sometimes indirectly. I have consistently found that projects with underlying themes of mental health allow me to manifest inspiration from my environment that I can use to make myself feel better. Again, there are many genetic and chemical factors that contribute to mental illness, so volunteering may not always be helpful, but it has often leads to a greater attachment to the community, and therefore, more overall happiness, gratitude, and satisfaction.



Physical effects on the body, such as lowered blood pressure, can easily be measured. However, there is also a great deal of information available on the social value of service. These two things work together and can have a significant impact on the overall health of a person.

Volunteering can make a person feel needed and appreciated, boosting self-confidence. It can also help an individual feel good about themselves, knowing that their actions have important and lasting effects in the community. By directly helping others in their community on a regular basis, many are able to understand their value and role in the world. Volunteering is truly for everyone; many people who have trouble with social interactions and anxiety can become more comfortable over time. Additionally, it can allow people to build meaningful connections and understand their role in society.

Social science researcher Francesca Borgonovi found, in a study based on self-reported data on happiness and health, that formal volunteering allowed individuals to feel less lonely, reducing their propensity to experience depression. Throughout the study, the empathetic response felt while volunteering was found to increase happiness. Especially for young people living alone, working towards the same goal with others can diminish loneliness. An individual that surrounds themselves with people who hold similar interests is likely to have a strong support system, which, despite genetic or environmental vulnerability, can decrease depression. Volunteering can be a tool used to cope with depression, as it creates accountability and can facilitate a co-dependence that may be helpful in overcoming emotional afflictions and trauma.

On a very basic level, shifting focus from the individual to the community can help people escape everyday stresses; often, shifting one’s attention to another’s situation can put their own problems into a realistic perspective.



If all of that was not enough to convince a person of the value of volunteering, a 2012 study in Health Psychology showed that even the life expectancy of volunteers is longer. Volunteers who selflessly volunteer, as opposed to volunteering for resume building, experience the aforementioned emotional benefits.

Through my personal experiences, I know many of these benefits to be true. Of course, the main purpose of volunteering is to benefit others and society around you. However, it is good to know that there are also many personal benefits. Combining the physical and mental health benefits, along with the plain fact that helping others makes an individual feel good, there are many reasons a person should start volunteering. At any age, people can and should begin volunteering, no matter if they are old or young. If you already volunteer, encourage others around you to join you, as they can help themselves while they help other. Aristotle surmised that the essence of life is

“To serve others and do good.”



Hi, I’m Connor! I’m fifteen years-old and have been volunteering with YVC in Calgary for over a year. I enjoy working on projects focusing on mental health and the environment. I have lived in Calgary all my life, and I enjoy the strong sense of community and diversity that my city has to offer. Last year, I received the award for the highest overall average in grade ten, and I hope to study neuroscience after high school.




Harvard Health Publishing

Psych Central

Library Services

National Centre for Biotechnology Information


Cover Image

Youth Central Volunteers

Mental Health Month


Three Ways to Create Happiness

Posted by Youth Volunteer Corps on



Finding happiness is a hot topic right now. Everywhere you look there is a new self-help book, television show, or presenter who wants to help people discover how to do this. That being said, the best ways of finding happiness are actually opportunities where we can create happiness in our lives.

Working with a youth service program, I am constantly reminded that we have the power to change and improve communities through our own actions. In fact, YVC’s International Youth Advisory Board selected the word “Empower” for their summer shirts this year and defined it as, “Taking action to lift others up and meet their full potential.”

Why should it comes as a surprise that this same way of thinking can create positive change in our own lives too?

Rather than seeking happiness, we can feel empowered to create happiness in our lives and in the lives of others. The thoughts expressed here are not unique. They are echoed in the lessons we have learned since childhood and have been shared by many thought leaders. The following are things we can all do, and they generally don’t cost anything. YAY! What’s better than FREE happiness?



Express (and Receive) Gratitude

At first, it may feel a little uncomfortable to tell people how they have impacted you. If expressing gratitude is challenging, think about ways to work yourself up to telling people about their positive influence on your life. I was reminded by a youth volunteer in our network recently, that this takes practice – just like everything else. Start with small things like journaling, sending yourself an email reminder of something positive, writing a short letter (even if you don’t send it!), or even just thinking about a moment when someone made you feel better about yourself. Then find a way to remind other people of the gifts they share with you and their community.

Receiving gratitude can be equally hard. Practicing the ability to say thank you might sound funny, but allowing yourself to receive and not deflect gratitude is an important step in creating happiness.

Don’t take it from me: Enjoy this video from SoulPancake on gratitude and happiness.



Be Mindful

The idea of being in the moment and experiencing it fully can be found in everything from exercise to cooking to travel to reading to—well you can add just about any other experience here. However, this is much easier said than done. We are primed to always be planning for the future, and we spend a fair amount of our life gaining skills and experiences that are meant to propel us forward into new things. We don’t often do something just for the experience.

Why not? Why can’t we just say “I am taking a walk to enjoy a walk,” instead of “I am taking a walk because it is a healthy thing to do, and we should all find healthy things to do.” Then, while on said walk, we plan our day, catch up on social media, and read texts from friends. All of these activities may feel natural, but learning to tune them out can be a fun way of training your brain to have a little downtime. Next time you take a walk, encourage yourself to think about each of your senses. What are you smelling, hearing, seeing, feeling, and even tasting?

If you need a little help, there are countless apps and trendy tricks that can help get you in the moment. My favorite one recently has been watching people record one second of each day with the intent of stringing these moments together at the end of the year. They consciously select one favorite moment to savor and share. Take your pick and enjoy finding your moment.

Don’t take it from me: Enjoy this article from The Ladders talking about Yale’s class on happiness and learning to savor more.



Engage in Service

In a world where we increasingly hear about people feeling lonely and depressed (and sometimes we are the person feeling lonely and depressed), it is important to find ways to connect with others.

Did you know that in a recent independent study, youth who participated in Youth Volunteer Corps (YVC) programming scored 98% higher on understanding the needs of their community and 75% higher on taking action to meet these needs? Understanding the needs of others can often help us to understand our own needs better. We also feel good when we know we’re helping others. In this way, service is a win-win for everyone involved!

Service allows us to practice both gratitude and mindfulness while helping others and growing personally. THIS is why volunteering can be considered the ultimate act of creating happiness.

”YVC has helped me gain the confidence to go out into the world and make new friends and try new things. It has really made me a better and happier person.” –Christian, O’Neil, YVC volunteer from Alpena, MI

Don’t take it from me: Enjoy this article from HuffPost on health benefits of volunteering and this one from the Harvard Health Blog on the body and mind benefits of volunteering.


Share this post:


Youth Volunteer Corps Service

If you are interested in learning more about volunteering in your community, the goals and program standards that make us unique, information about youth building life and career skills through YVC programming, or you simply want to donate, we invite you to check us out online at



My Life with Youth Volunteer Corps

Posted by Youth Volunteer Corps on


Throughout my life I have always been a very service oriented person. I knew that I liked to help others and I wanted to do more. However when my mom signed me up for a summer session of Youth Volunteer Corps (YVC) six years ago, I had no idea what to expect or how much my life would change because of it. In addition to the countless hours of service I’ve done, I’ve also had the opportunity to learn more about myself as a leader and a volunteer. I’ve learned about the importance of reflecting on my work and my actions, as well as becoming much more socially aware of both myself and other members of my community.


One service project that always stuck with me was something that I did very early on in my time within YVC. I was still fairly young and still learning about what it means to volunteer. For this particular project we were working with an organization called SOS Community Services located in Ypsilanti Michigan. SOS provides resources such as food, shelter, and other things to help families get back on their feet and regain stability. While we were there, we learned a lot about their mission and services, and it inspired me a lot to take more action in my community. Over the course of the day we packaged food and worked in the food pantry helping families get what they need. It was not the biggest or most intricate service project I’ve done, but it was the first project that made me realize volunteering was something I was passionate about and that I wanted to spend my time in Youth Volunteer Corps.



Throughout my years in YVC, I have been able to see myself learn and grow into the leader I am today. It has taught me responsibility, determination, flexibility, and many other things. One thing that I always found valuable and unique about the YVC in my community was the importance placed on reflection. This has helped me realize exactly how my work is important and why I’m doing it. I will always be thankful to have had the opportunity to work with YVC, as many of the skills I’ve learned and experiences I’ve had will stay with me for the rest of my life.




Hi, I’m Sarah Campbell from Ann Arbor, MI. Aside from the obviously love of service and volunteering, I am very passionate about the arts, such as theater and music, as well as traveling and photography. In Ann Arbor, I’ve been a part of my school’s theater company for 3 years now. I’ve played the guitar, ukulele, and bass for about 6 years. As for the traveling and photography, I’ve always loved seeing and learning things in new places and I think it’s super fun to capture moments on camera whether it’s the new places I’ve gone to or just fun photoshoots with friends.







Share this post:


For the Love of Service

Posted by Youth Volunteer Corps on


Not long ago I was wearing a Youth Volunteer Corps (YVC) sweatshirt at school, and someone asked what it was. When I explained that YVC is a network of youth volunteers, the first thing he said was, “Why would you do work you don’t get paid for?” That’s a great question, one that I had weirdly not thought about before.

I have been volunteering from a young age when my parents would take me to soup kitchens with my church. Eventually in middle school I had been volunteering for a while and decided to join the volunteer club there. In 7th grade I first learned about YVC through their summer of service program, and within the first hour on the first day of the week-long project, I fell in love with YVC. I went on mission trips, and kept volunteering whenever and wherever I could. I continued to work with YVC through middle and high school, joining Youth Advisory Board (YAB) and International Youth Advisory Board (IYAB), and in my freshman year I joined my high school service club, which I am now president of. For me, service has always just been a part of my life, and I had never really given much thought to why I do it, it was simply a part of my life. Now as I prepare to head off to college next semester, I could use all the money I can get. So why am I working for free? Am I being ripped off? I had to take a step back and think about this for a while in order to come up with an answer, and it honestly bothered me a bit that I had never given this much consideration before. After some deliberation, I realized that the answer is quite simple: it allows me to see the world.

I see the parts and people of my community that would have otherwise been hidden from me by circumstance and privilege. I have been fortunate enough to have the memory of watching a patron sing at a soup kitchen in downtown Kansas City, and I remember she had such a beautiful voice and a kind spirit, which I never would have been able to experience otherwise. I also got to hear the experiences of a man who was once homeless, and his stories of the struggles of homelessness and life on the streets exposed me to a new perspective that I could never have heard outside of the realm of community service. I have gotten to meet animals that have been abused and neglected, and learn how to help and comfort them. I have met individuals at a home for the elderly and gotten to hear their stories. Through them, I have learned of wars and peace, of love and sadness. They are some of the most lively people on the planet, with the sweetest senses of humor that I might never have met. I have tutored children, and though I may have helped teach them math and reading, they helped to teach me creativity and joy. They sparked something greater within me, and inspired me to find my inner child at the times in my life when I felt most stressed.

Through volunteering, I have been blessed with many opportunities to see the world through the eyes of others, and this has made me a more compassionate person. In everyday life I find myself expressing greater empathy and searching for new ways to see the world, and without this perspective I truly believe that my life would be too dull to bear at times. So, as it turns out, I am getting paid for my work. I am getting paid in memory and experience, in empathy, kindness, and a renewed passion for life that has helped me through hardships. Most of all, I have been paid in love, for the world and its people, for my life and my circumstances. Service has imbued me with a passion and dedication that I doubt I could find elsewhere, and this is more than enough compensation for my work.



Zoe Thompson is a senior in high school in Kansas City. She enjoys volunteering, reading, playing the cello, and playing with her golden retriever.






Share this post:


The Unbreakable Bonds of Service and Food

Posted by Youth Volunteer Corps on


“What should be the last song we should sing in the van before we leave for the airport?” asked Becca. I heard someone in the back rows suggest Uptown Funk. She instantly loaded the song up on her phone and we heard the signature intro play through the van’s speakers. All of us sung at the top of our lungs as we waited for Greg, our Youth Volunteer Corps (YVC) program director, to come back and hand the van’s keys back to the rental place.


The crew I got to sing carpool karaoke with at our service project in Houston, TX, was comprised of our program director, Greg, our Repair the World fellow, Becca, and volunteers Jessica, Winnie, Brian, Barry, Hannah, Celine, and Qinlan. Although it may seem that we have known each other for ages, I actually only knew Jessica, Winnie, Greg, and Celine from previous years with YVC. In the summer of 2017, if you asked me who Becca, Barry, Hannah, Qinlan, and Brian were, they would be complete strangers to me. This is our story.



In July of 2017, I was messaged by Greg, asking me to join the Youth Advisory Board of Greater Philadelphia and represent my high school. After consulting with Jessica and Winnie, who were already on the Board, I gladly accepted the invitation. During my first YAB meeting, I met Brian and Qinlan formally for the first time. I recognized Brian from YVC service projects, but I had not known much about either of them. After a couple of hours at the Repair the World Workshop discussing potential projects for the coming school year, we were finished with our meeting. At our next meeting, we were about to finish our conversations when Brian suggested, “Hey, I’m hungry. You guys want to go get food soon?” Everyone nodded.



As we got up to leave, Qinlan told us that she was going to Chinatown for food and anyone was welcome to come along. Brian smiled and exclaimed, “Let’s go!” After some thought, I said, “Count me in.” Winnie and Jessica had the same idea. That day, we all had a nice time eating bowls of pho and cups of rolled ice cream.



One month later, all four of us were in the middle of planning service projects when we unexpectedly heard a doorbell ring. Greg got up to get the door as the rest of us exchanged confused looks with each other. In walked a fit, young asian teenage boy with glasses and dressed in black clothes. Greg patted his back and he smiled. Greg announced, “Guys, I want you to meet Barry. He’s a great volunteer from Furness High School and I invited him to join us as a new YAB member,” He turned to Barry, “Barry, I want you to meet Brian, Jessica, Andy, Qinlan, and Winnie.” We waved. In a low and tired voice, Barry waved and said hi to us. Sometime later, we all decided to take a lunch break. I pitched an idea of going to get sushi at a nearby sushi bar. Instantly, I heard Qinlan exclaim, “OOO…SUSHI! But isn’t that expensive?” Jessica answered, “I’ve been there. It doesn’t cost that much if you get their lunch special.” Barry finally spoke his thoughts: “Mmm…you know what? Sushi sounds really good right now.” A few minutes later, we found ourselves waiting on five lunch special orders of sushi. When we started eating, Barry was the first to finish his food when the rest of us were only halfway through. Brian said with a surprised look on his face, “Wow, that was fast. Wait…,” Brian smiled and turned toward the rest of the group, “Hey guys, it’s Barry Allen, the fastest man alive!” We chuckled. Barry was a little confused. “But my last name’s not even Allen,” he paused, “I’m hungry again.”



By the end of August, we had a structured plan for the start of the 2017-2018 school year but had yet to start executing it. In the closing days of my 2017 summer, we were introduced to Becca. She would be working closely with Greg and the Board, making sure our plans were implemented properly. Although I didn’t have summer to get to know Becca, our YAB meetings and YVC service projects really showed off who she was as a person. We clearly saw her passion for community service. Throughout my junior year of high school, I had a great time volunteering with Becca. She made sure every volunteer had a smile on their face during our projects and had great solutions to any planning problems the Board encountered. As the school year progressed, Becca helped YVC Philly developed into a much more structured system and never seemed to disappoint anyone.



A couple of weeks after the end of my junior year, I decided to go to drop by the Workshop to see if I could help out with planning the monthly service-learning units for the next school year. I knew Greg had brought on Jessica, Barry, Qinlan, and couple other people as interns to help with the process. Walking in, I recognized Jessica, Barry, and Qinlan working on their own laptops. Looking around the room, another person caught my eye. She happened to be the only one on a 2-in-1 laptop and a stylus pen. A few minutes later, I learned that her name was Hannah and that she was also one of Greg’s interns. During our food break, Hannah pulled up a funny moments video of the TV series The Office, resulting all of us had a great laugh along with our meal. When I learned that she would be coming along for the Houston service trip, I knew I was going to have a great experience in Texas.



The YVC service trip to Houston, Texas was a project where our YVC partnered with Repair the World and the St. Bernard Parish to help provide disaster relief to the families affected by Hurricane Harvey. Despite the storm hitting the area one year before, there was still so much work to be done on the ground. Over the course of three days, our group worked to lay floorboards and tiled the floors of two affected homes. All of us worked our hardest and became covered in mosquito bites. I was grateful to be on this trip not only for the work we did, but also for bonding experiences I had with both old and new friends during the trip. One night, Becca decided to lead our group to a Texan BBQ restaurant for dinner. I remember Brian getting a nice meaty pork sandwich for his order and suggest that all of us get some root beer to go along with our meal. Qinlan got the same thing, but when she saw that the place had a self-serve tray of pickles she tried to fit as many as possible between the meat and the top bun. Barry had got a small mountain of meat and a loaded potato… but still wanted more. If someone was full but still had food leftover, Barry probably finished it for them. At our temporary home in Houston, I brought out the video game Just Dance and got Barry, Brian, and Hannah to dance with me. With every song played, the four of us laughed while showing off our moves – even if we were pretty sweaty afterward. At the end of the day, I enjoyed it when Becca would gather all of us up to have a group conversation. In addition to talking about our plan for the next day, it was a special moment for everyone to reflect on their experiences to others and for us to celebrate our achievements.


As I look back on this trip more than half a year later, I feel like the experience was more than just performing impactful service and having fun times with people I love – the disaster relief project was an encapsulation of all the personal progress I had made with YVC in the past year. I gain so much knowledge from being a YAB member, and I also gained some new friends. I am glad to say I have served alongside them. Without that year in my life, I would not have known things like Qinlan’s affinity for pickles, Barry’s constant hunger, Becca and Brian’s passion to put smiles on the faces of those around them, or Hannah’s peppy and positive attitude. It didn’t matter if we knew each other for eleven months or for a few weeks, we were still able to sing karaoke together in that rental van.


Guest Post from Andy Chek

I am a proud member of YVC Philadelphia and have been volunteering with Youth Volunteer Corps since my freshman year of high school. I love meeting new people and I am not afraid to get out of my comfort zone. While I enjoy going for that morning run or playing a game of badminton, there’s a chance you’ll find me snuggled up in a corner binge watching TV shows like How I Met Your Mother. After high school, I hope to study engineering in college and to continue to help out my community through service.







Share this post:


How Volunteering Gave Me a Voice

Posted by Youth Volunteer Corps on


I was just an average, mopey, sixth grader. I was involved in nothing special. I partook in no sports and I wasn’t engaged in any after school clubs. I just went to school, came home, did my homework, and went to bed. My life was boring and uneventful. Then, one day I started to spend time at my local Boys and Girls Club. This was the moment where my life changed for the better. After going to the Club for a couple of months, the Youth Volunteer Corps coordinator talked to me and my parents about taking my time and going to projects.


Given that I had a shy personality, I had absolutely no interest in participating in spending time with senior citizens at the retirement home. However, my parents convinced me, and I decided to go.

It started off horribly. I ended up missing the van that gives us rides to the project, so they had to come back and get me. It was super embarrassing, and it made me even more shy to my fellow volunteers. I’ll be honest, the project was slow, but I could tell the difference that I was making. By the time we left the retirement home, I could tell that all of the residents’ days had improved. It made me realize the impact that little things can make.



I have now been volunteering with YVC for over four years, participated on three Youth Advisory Boards, and am now on the International Youth Advisory Board. It has led me in such a good direction for life. YVC has given me so many gifts, I cannot thank the program enough. I can now speak without being shy, and I have the knowledge to help when help is needed, and even when it is not needed. I have met so many new people and have made so many new friends. After going to YVC Summit, this last November, I expanded my idea of how many people this organization has impacted.


Youth Volunteer Corps has given me a drive to get work done that I would never have had without it. It has taught me that even when you miss the van, you can still get work done.


Hi my name is Brett Budnik and I am from Alpena Michigan.  I have been volunteering with YVC Alpena since I was in the sixth grade! I am currently a student at Alpena High School. YVC has really helped me be able to learn more about my community and its needs. I enjoy bike riding, swimming, and hanging out with my dog “Bubba”. Alpena is in Northeastern part of the lower peninsula in Michigan. I have lived here my entire life, but boy we sure do have cold winters! I am honored to be able to be a part of IYAB and have the chance to learn more about other YVC groups!





Share this post:


Youth Volunteer Corps, 1025 Jefferson St., Kansas City, MO 64105

©2019 Youth Volunteer Corps