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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: http://www.childrensbirthdaymiracles.com/

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. 

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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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.

 

Volunteer Spotlight: Angelique Williams

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Angelique Williams is a youth volunteer who began participating in the Youth Volunteer Corps program when she lived in Danbury, CT. After moving to South Carolina, Angelique sought out more volunteer opportunities and found YVC of Charleston.

 

What motivates you to serve?

I am motivated to serve because I love meeting new people and learning new things while also making a positive impact on my community. While growing up, I volunteered with my family a few times a year but after the tragedy at Sandy Hook happened my family started heavily volunteering in different projects such as Ben’s Bells, 5k races, and different fundraisers which sparked a desire in me to do more on a regular basis. That desire brought me to Youth Volunteer Corps.

 

When did you start serving and how old are you now?

I joined YVC Danbury when I was 12; I’m 14 now. Before I joined YVC, I often volunteered with my family.

 

What’s been the most meaningful service project you’ve participated in? Why?

I have enjoyed all of the YVC service projects I have done, but the one that touches my heart the most is volunteering at the senior center. I have the best time there and I always leave with more knowledge than I walked in with. The people there are such fun to hang out with and play games with. They are so funny and they are the absolute sweetest.

 

What do you like about the Youth Volunteer Corps model?

I like that I am learning people skills and valuable life skills such as time management, responsibility, and altruism. Most of all though, I love the many connections I have made throughout the years. I hope to maintain these relationships for many years to come.

 

Why was it important for you to keep participating in YVC after you moved from Danbury?

I see it as a way for me to get to know my new home. I had such fun volunteering with the Danbury YVC that I wanted to continue the experience in Charleston. I’ve done some great projects in Charleston already; the special needs prom was awesome!

 

What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned through your service with YVC?

I have learned to put things into perspective. Life is complicated and I’ve learned to not judge others so quickly and practice more understanding and empathy. I think mostly I’ve learned that even though I’m one person, I can always make a difference. What I do matters.

 

Do you plan on continuing to volunteer after you graduate from high school?

Yes, I plan to ultimately always volunteer in some capacity for the rest of my life. I look forward to doing some service projects abroad after high school.

 

Has your service with YVC inspired you to choose a career path?

I want to be a meteorologist and I have received great encouragement from many of the people I have met through YVC. Many well-known meteorologists volunteer at local schools and host learning sessions to teach kids about the weather, which I think is neat.

 

Why do you think others should volunteer and serve with Youth Volunteer Corps?

Honestly, serve because it’s fun! You meet new people, go to new places, and learn interesting things. It’s such a different experience when you are volunteering with friends.

Projects Against Plastics: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

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The Youth Advisory Board of the YVC of Alpena, Michigan, is bringing plastic to the forefront attention of our community. We have been heading a series of projects that bring a focus on a very real threat to our future: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a wide area about 1000 miles north of Hawaii and located in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre that teams with humanity’s garbage and debris. This plastic-populated area of the Pacific Ocean is twice the size of Texas and home to an estimated 3.5 million tons of trash. The plastic we use and discard daily ends up here through ocean currents, where it accumulates- and has accumulated so much that within the last 40 years, it has increased to 100 times its original size. It poses a serious threat to the ecosystem, to us, and, eventually, to our future. Many organisms mistake plastics for food, which leads to the plastic, and toxins that come with, working its way up the food chain and into our own diets- that is, if the plastic doesn’t kill the organisms first. Debris leads to the deaths of about 100,000 marine mammals and millions of birds and fish annually.

This information and more is what we’ve been teaching our community and our volunteers through various projects centered around plastic recycling. YVC of Alpena has partnered with NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) for various projects, bringing in speakers to our youth volunteers to lead and educate. Once the weather warms up, we plan on aiding NOAA with summer cleanups along various roads, beaches, and lakes.

One of the cool projects we’ve tackled is making a recycle cap art mural. This project involved collecting bottle caps and other plastic caps and creating a collage of color in an artful design. This project took a week of construction for our volunteers. Caps used for the project were also collected by volunteers for a month before construction started. The number of plastic caps on the project is estimated to be over 3,000. Our YAB developed a presentation to go along with the mural, and we showcased it at NOAA, local museums, and other locations to help bring plastic to people’s minds. During our presentation, we taught about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, something we discovered many of our residents were not aware of.

YVC of Alpena will continue to do projects focused on this issue and other recycling topics. We hope to develop new ideas and community support for recycling efforts. With YVC, we are giving youth a voice and helping to change the world!

 

 

This blog post was contributed by Brook Mainville, Program Director of YVC of Alpena.

YVC to Me

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To me, Youth Volunteer Corps is more than a nonprofit organization. YVC has served more as a home for me and a place I could grow and learn more about the needs of my community and the world. I am grateful I’ve served with YVC throughout all of middle school, and especially high school. YVC has taught me many valuable life lessons that I will take with me wherever I go. I’ve learned how to become a better leader, how to serve my community and address the needs of my community, become more patient and appreciative, and countless more life lessons.

Throughout my time volunteering in high school, I’ve developed into a stronger leader and someone who has the power to change my community for the better. I’ve learned how important it is to have a voice and acknowledge issues my community and the world faces and how to work towards change. Without the help of YVC, I would not have become aware of how easy change is if I’m passionate and willing to put the work in to make an impact. Through YVC, I have developed into the best volunteer and leader I could be. I’ve learned how big of an impact YVC has on so many people, and with one step at a time we can all support and improve our communities together.

Although my time with YVC is coming to an end, I will always look back and reflect the impact YVC has made on my life. YVC has helped me see the effect my service has on the people that I am helping. I love putting a smile on peoples faces and providing them with help they did not have before. It takes as little as a few minutes to make someone’s day, and I am so grateful YVC has given me that opportunity.

I have learned so much about helping my community throughout my life. I have always enjoyed going out of school and seeing what the community is doing for others, and I have YVC to thank for that. I plan on continuing my service in the future and extend my hand even more, because this is our world and we have to preserve it for the generations to come. I have YVC to thank for so many memories and learning more about how I can serve my community anywhere I am!

 

This was taken during YVC Hampton Roads 2016 Summer of Service Camp. For one of the days, we went to the Gardens of Warwick Forest and did crafts and played BINGO with the residents!

 

 

 

This photo was taken during an ongoing project to make dog toys out of old t-shirts that would be donated to the SPCA!

 

YVC Hampton Roads made an appearance on the Hampton Roads Show on April 6th, 2018  to promote our Annual Canstructure Contest which takes place on Global Youth Service Day!

 

 

Maya Patel is an active volunteer with YVC of Hampton Roads

and serves on the YVC International Youth Advisory Board.

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Volunteering in Charleston, SC

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My name is Keory and I am an 8th grade student at Orange Grove Charter School. I joined YVC of Charleston in June 2016 and have volunteered a total of 74 hours since! My goal in volunteering is to enjoy giving back in service. I have attended two years of the Summer Service-Learning Institute and my favorite event is preparing food at the Ronald McDonald House where families of sick children come to stay. Doing volunteer work can be relaxing, meaningful, interesting, and energizing. It helps me to escape my Saturday chores but the opportunity to serve others also provides me renewed creativity, motivation, and a vision that I can carry over in my personal life.

I originally started volunteering with my mom. At first, I was convinced that I was not going to like anything about being a volunteer, but after I arrived at the project site and we started passing out school supplies, I questioned the reason why we had to do what we were doing. As my mom explained to me what it was like to not have the necessary things that some families can’t provide, I wanted to do more. Being able to volunteer and help others is a wonderful feeling.

 

 

Some of my favorite experiences volunteering with YVC of Charleston include:

Spending my Saturday at the Ronald McDonald House to prepare breakfast for families of children that are in the hospital, so they don’t have to worry about a meal.  Providing this type of comfort and caring for families helps me to sleep well at night.

 

 

I also love playing bingo with senior citizens in my community. I look forward to days that we do not have to go to school because I know I am going to spend time with my senior.

I enjoy face painting at our School Supply Drive in August. It’s great to see the kids coming out to celebrate the end of the summer and time for them to get ready and excited for the first day back to school.

 

 

Lastly, the Low Country Blessing Box Project was such a blessing to me and other YVC youth volunteers. These Blessing Boxes are anonymous donation sites for non-perishable food items, toiletries, and small baby care items. We refurbished a cabinet last summer and used it as a blessing box for Laundry Matters on Charleston’s Eastside. Laundry Matters is the only laundromat within walking distance for eastside residents so it is a staple in the community for residents to not only wash their clothes but to pick up a few nonperishable items while they are there. YVC of Charleston continues to stock the pantry each month with nonperishable foods.

 

Volunteering with YVC Charleston plays a big and important role in my life!

 

 

 

Keory was born and raised in Charleston, SC.

He is an active volunteer with YVC of Charleston

and serves as a YVC Brand Ambassador.

 

Alumni Spotlight: Alexander Smith

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Alexander Smith, YVC of Kansas City alumnus

Alexander Smith served with YVC of Kansas City from 2019-2014. He is currently a senior at New York University studying History and Communication. We caught up with Alexander and asked him a few questions on how volunteering with Youth Volunteer Corps has shaped his life.

What is one of your favorite memories as a member of YVC?

Attending the YVC Summit in Kansas City was a wonderful experience. I had the unique opportunity to connect with members of the Youth Advisory Board, listen to incredible panelists, and meet volunteers from across the country. The summit reinforced my passion for service, while simultaneously highlighting the dedication and fortitude of young volunteers. To this day, I still stay in touch with summit participants, fellow YVCKC volunteers, and members of the Kansas City advisory board.

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

YVC helped catalyze my passion for public service and civic engagement. Now a senior at NYU, I feel these passions have been emulated in my person, professional, and academic endeavors.

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

I interned at the Obama White House in the Spring of 2016. I worked full-time and had the opportunity to meet First Lady Michelle Obama, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Vice President Joe Biden, and President Barack Obama during my internship. It was an incredible experience and remarkable to work alongside talented staffers and managers.

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

I have a twin sister (who also did YVC with me)!

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

It has been wonderful to stay in touch with YVCKC volunteers and see what projects everyone is working on! It’s incredibly motivating and reassuring to know YVC alumni are pursuing their passion.

Thank you to Alexander for taking the time to speak with us and share more about his life and how YVC has helped him find his 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.

Serving Veterans by serving Honey Bees

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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YVC Cornerstone Grant Winners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This funding opportunity was made possible by the Sunderland Foundation.

 

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Volunteers honored as “Emerging Heroes”

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From left: Avery Putnam, Lucia Gorman, Morgan Greening, Kendra Dascano, Alexandra Schulman

The United Way of Western Connecticut (UWWCT) hosted their 4th Annual Hometown Heroes Benefit Dinner on Saturday, December 2nd. This event celebrates those in the community who lead by example, give back to others and demonstrate a strong commitment to making an impact on the lives of others. Each honoree was nominated by someone in their community and then reviewed against other exceptional people in their town. The following criteria are taken into consideration in selecting an honoree:

  • Achievement – the nominee’s actual accomplishment produced significant results
  • Action – the involvement of the nominee is active and hands-on
  • Caring – as demonstrated by the nominee’s interaction with others
  • Commitment – the nominee has a sincere belief in their community
  • Impact – the nominee’s activity or program produced positive changes, provided examples for other groups
  • Initiative – the nominee recognizes a need in their local community and initiates new programs or activities to meet that need
  • Leadership – the nominee demonstrates singular leadership to contribute to their community
  • Time – the nominee dedicates considerable time and energy to making a difference in their community

Youth Volunteer Corps of Danbury was honored to have four out of the total nine youth receive the Emerging Hero Award this year. The Emerging Hero Award was new to the event and was awarded to high school-aged youth who demonstrate strong leadership in volunteerism and community service.

“We are thrilled to include a new category of award for youth volunteers who have made service to others a priority and distinguished themselves by making a positive impact in their community,” said UWWCT CEO, Kim Morgan.

UWWCT named four Emerging Heroes from YVC of Danbury. They are; Alexandra Schulman, Avery Putnam, Kendra Dascano and Lucia Gorman.

“These four young ladies are truly exceptional,” said Morgan Greening, YVC of Danbury program director. “They have each served on our Youth Advisory Board and they have shown they are true role models at every YVC project they participate in through hard work, compassion and leadership. We are incredibly proud of them and can’t wait to see what the accomplish next.”

When asked why these young women volunteer and why they believe volunteerism is important, they responded as follows:

Lucia Gorman, left

“One of the reasons I volunteer is to make connections outside of my small school and my small, rural town. Connections with new friends who have the same volunteer spirit as me. Connections with the individuals, families and groups that can benefit from the resources of time and energy that teenagers can give. And connections with the non-profit organizations that have made service their mission. Volunteering is important to the community because it reminds us how fortunate we are that we can give help and hope to others. For those who are receiving aid, it lets them know that they are not alone. It also shows how we are strong when we work together.” – Lucia Gorman

 

 

 

Kendra Dascano

“Helping people in my community is a way for me to give back to society and is also a positive way to channel my love and compassion for others. One of the best aspects of volunteering is knowing that I am involved in something that is bigger than myself and that I am making a difference in my community. Engaging myself in my community has given me a sense of happiness and reward, and I know that it is something that I will always be part of. I think it is always important to be kind to others because you never know what someone might be going through. A simple smile can brighten someone’s day. Volunteering at organizations that help the homeless, elderly, and children has not only allowed me to understand different groups of people and their needs but also bring about change. There are so many causes in need of our help and I would encourage anyone to give even a few hours of their time to benefit their community.” -Kendra Dascano

 

Avery Putnam

“I volunteer to meet new people while simultaneously making a difference and being productive. I feel that volunteering has given me the opportunity to better myself as well as my community, and I love improving the lives of other people. I personally value kindness and compassion above all other traits in my life. I have made countless friends through my volunteer work, some of which I consider to be my best friends. I not only volunteer for the people that have fewer opportunities than myself, but I also volunteer to give me opportunities to expand my horizons and grow as an individual. Volunteer work creates tolerance and peace within a community, and it educates everyone involved. If the volunteer work is interpersonal, both the volunteer and the recipient are able to learn about each other and develop a relationship. Any person who is impacted by an act of volunteerism has the opportunity to grow and become more tolerant. A greater prevalence of volunteer work in the world will ultimately lead to a happier, more positive idea of humanity!” -Avery Putnam

 

 

Alexandra Schulman

“I volunteer because I enjoy helping other people and the community. Volunteers are a critical asset to a community to help it thrive. I know that when I serve, whether during a large project or a small, one-on-one interaction with some less fortunate than my self, I am changing someone’s life for the better. I’m happy to know that I have the ability to make a difference in the lives of others and that through my work I bring about a positive change. It’s not always an immediate change but little by little, volunteers are making a better world.” -Alexandra Schulman

 

 

 

To read more about these honorees and to see pictures and videos, click here!

 

 

This guest blog post was submitted by Morgan Greening, program director of YVC of Danbury.

YVC of Danbury was awarded the 2017 Affiliate of the Year award in recognition of their exceptional youth service program. 

 

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