What if…

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When we gathered 100+ members of the YVC family together for the 25th Anniversary Summit, we not only wanted to celebrate 25 years of YVC but also build the foundation for 25 more. One of the ways we did this was by dreaming BIG ideas for the future.

We set up a “What If” board, and Summit attendees dreamed up some huge ideas, some practical and some wild. But with more than 270,000 Youth Volunteers over the last 25 years, who knows what could happen in 25 more?

Here are just some of the awesome ideas our Summit attendees came up with:

What if we had enough volunteers for all our community needs?
What if everyone on the planet had a sense of their creative power?
What if just one dollar a day went from your pocket to a different charity each day?
What if YVC was a household name?
What if every citizen participated in a YVC project as a Youth Volunteer? How would that change our communities?
What if YVC helped us fly?
What if every YVC volunteer continued to serve for the rest of their lives?
What if everyone was as motivated as we are?
What if every Youth Volunteer recruited one new person every year they volunteered?
What if regional YVCs scheduled one large project with surrounding YVCs each year?
What if every hour spent volunteering earned a dollar that would go to charity?
What if every metro area had a YVC with Saturday, summer, after-school projects and a Youth Advisory Board?
What if you convinced all your friends to participate in two projects per month and then spread the word?
What if there were so many youth involved with YVC that we had to rent a football stadium for our Summit?
What if one new tree was planted every day?
What if there were a YVC in every city? Or every country?
What if everyone cared as much as we do?
What if I could change the world?

We can’t stop talking about the Summit! Have you been following our other Summit posts? Catch up on the last two posts: 25th Anniversary Summit: A Life-Changing Experience, What Did You Learn at the Summit? and The Summit: A YVC Family Reunion.

2012 Annual Report

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Thank you to our Youth Volunteers for an incredible 25th Anniversary year! Check out our 2012 Annual Report to meet just some of the amazing youth who volunteered with us this year: 


The Summit: A YVC Family Reunion

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Before this year’s Summit, it had been three years since the YVC family was able to come together. So when we got 100 members of the YVC family together for the 25th Anniversary Summit, we knew we wanted to celebrate! Not only did we have the excitement of Youth Volunteers and YVC staff coming from all over the U.S. and Canada to celebrate, but we also wanted to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of YVC.

Throughout the Summit, we took time to celebrate the accomplishments of both the last year and all of YVC’s 25 year history. Did you know that since 1987, there have been a whopping 270,325 Youth Volunteers who have served with YVC (we’ve had a few more since the time the cake below was baked!)? We wanted to celebrate every single one of them!

We of course had a cake (or two!) because what’s a celebration without a cake? But the real celebrations came in the interactions between members of the YVC family. Youth Volunteers from Anderson County, South Carolina and Muskogee, Oklahoma staying up too late working on an on-site service project and getting to know each other. Program Directors from Calgary, Alberta and Grant County, New Mexico sharing ideas about their YVC programs and learning that despite the differences in their communities, they can both learn from each other. YVC’s Founder and President David Battey jumping into a giant game of Apples to Apples with Youth Volunteers from all over the YVC network.

We also devoted time to dreaming about what YVC could look like 25 years from now. What better way to celebrate a 25th Anniversary then to dream about all that can happen before the 50th Anniversary?

Thanks for being a part of the 25th Anniversary Summit! We can’t wait to see everyone back next year and welcome even more participants!

We can’t stop talking about the Summit! Have you been following our other Summit posts? Catch up on the last two posts: 25th Anniversary Summit: A Life-Changing Experience and What Did You Learn at the Summit?, and stay tuned for one more post next week.

What did you learn at the Summit?

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Between funding strategies, youth leadership, marketing and using improv to build confidence, the YVC Summit offered all kinds of workshops for attendees to learn how to expand YVC in their communities.

The Summit is the only place to get YVC-specific training, and our attendees said they went home with ideas to make their YVC program even better. Here’s what just a few of them said:

I learned at the Summit…
Ways to volunteer after YVC
 You don’t have to start really big to make a difference.


How to spread the word about YVC




Volunteering isn’t just for hours
How to be more organized
How to plan a project


How to use social media to promote YVC


How to speak up and not be shy


While leadership is important, the first follower is also important.







  YVC has the potential to be a movement.


We are a community.

Your Impact with YVC

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Youth Volunteers changed the world this year. Here’s how:

25th Anniversary Summit: A Life-Changing Experience

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Last weekend, 105 people came together at the YVC Summit to celebrate 25 years of service with YVC and look forward to the next 25. Here’s what some of those 105 people had to say in their own words:


“It was a very good event and a great value for the expense. I think it really brought the big picture into focus for the youth.”

“It was truly one of the best experiences I’ve had with YVC.”

“One of the best! It was nice to meet YVC staff and interact with the YVC board members.”

“I had an amazing time and am very happy I came.”

It changed my life and I made tons of new connections with people from all over.”


Thank you to everyone who came to the Summit and helped make it awesome!

It’s Summit Time!

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We have sent our last reminder emails, the food is ordered, the reservations are final and all the deadlines are now in the past. The 25th Anniversary Summit is finally here, and we are as giddy as kids at Christmas awaiting your arrival!

We are taking this opportunity to share with you the one special thing each one of us is most excited about:



As it turns out (and lucky for us!) Darcy knows everyone in Kansas City. As we began planning this Summit, no matter the issue, no matter the topic, Darcy would say, “My friend so-and-so owns an amazing restaurant and she could …” So it was no surprise when she was asked what she was most looking forward to, that her answer was, “All the little extracurricular activities that folks get to do here in Kansas City. I love Kansas City and all the amazing people here doing incredibly interesting things. It is truly a thriving community.” And that will be apparent to all of you when you explore the city, taste all the amazing food and talk to Darcy about what recommendations she has for things to do.


Since Lacey started full-time as YVC’s Communications and Media Coordinator, we have completed a major branding initiative (including designing and printing numerous branding items), designed a new website, planned a nationwide 25th Anniversary Celebration of Service, moved our offices twice, hosted an open house attended by the Mayor of Kansas City and organized the Summit. Oh … and in the middle of all of that, Lacey planned her wedding and got married in Oregon in September! As you can imagine, Lacey is determined to enjoy herself this weekend, and we all support that goal. “We set up a hangout room, icebreaker games, a scavenger hunt, among other activities, so that we can all have plenty of time to get to know each other and have some fun,” said Lacey. “Look for me in the game room!”


Since Tracy arrived at YVC a little over a year ago, we have undergone some major changes! Thanks to her steady and capable leadership, we have accomplished some extraordinarily lofty goals, none more important than organizing this Summit. But if there is one thing you will learn about Tracy, it is that despite her focused determination, she insists on laughing and having a good time. Needless to say, the improv comedy show at Comedy City was her idea and it is also what she is most looking forward to. “We will be rolling up our sleeves and getting a lot of work done during this Summit and that is exciting, but I insist on having a good time,“ she said. “I have always had a blast at Comedy City and I can’t wait to share some laughs with all of our visitors.”


As Paul approaches his one-year anniversary as Affiliate Serves Coordinator, it is amazing to step back and recognize the monumental task he faced as he stepped into this new role. Fortunately his years as the Program Director of YVCKC, which is thriving in no small part due to his leadership, prepared him for the task at hand. His calm and steady presence has been a major part of our ability to make some major changes this year and not crumbling under the immensity of it all. This Summit is the culmination of a great deal of planning and effort on his part and he is looking forward to finally witnessing the fruits of his labor. “All of the workshops are going to be great, but I am really looking forward to the workshops that are being led by Directors, Team Leaders and Youth Volunteers,” said Paul. “Affiliate participation will be crucial for our growth, and my goal for this Summit is to get Affiliates excited and involved.”


Anyone who knows David knows that he is a people person. If you haven’t met David, you will this weekend! He loves to be in the middle of it all, and his enthusiasm and excitement for YVC’s mission is contagious. One of our most recent favorite “David Moments” here at the office is when YVCKC Team Leaders initiated a “How Far Can You Jump?” game, and there was David hurling himself across the office trying not to be outdone. We all could have predicted that what he is most looking forward to is participating in games and workshops and hearing from all of you. “One of the things I am really excited about is the formation of a National Youth Advisory Board,” says David. “I love having youth involved as much as possible, and the possibility of having youth from all over the country participating in our growth is everything I could have hoped for!”


We can’t wait to see all of the Youth Volunteers and YVC staff traveling across the country (and Canada!) to meet up in Kansas City! See you tomorrow!

Can’t make the trip? Follow along on Twitter at #yvcsummit.

June 8, 1987: The First Day of YVC

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YVC’s President and Founder David Battey in 1987.

People ask when I thought YVC was going to be a success. They are surprised when I am able to pinpoint a day and time—Monday, June 8, 1987, at 5:30 p.m.

You see, that was the first day of service for the 47 high school youth who had signed up to be in the brand new Youth Volunteer Corps of Greater Kansas City.

A lot had gone on right up to that June day—the United Way Volunteer Center had stepped forward to sponsor the project, six nonprofits had developed summer service projects, a very diverse group of teenagers had signed up to be on four-week projects,and the overnight team-building camp had been a success.

My main question after the first day of service was very basic and kind of important—would any of the teens come back for a second day? I needed to know before Tuesday, June 9, 1987.

So I went up to my room at my parents’ house in Shawnee Mission, Kansas. The same room that had been mine since I was seven years old; the same one that my parents thought it was time for me to move out of as a 24 year-old man.

In a time before cell phones, text messages, caller ID and call waiting, I knew what I had to do. I had to call a few of the Youth Volunteers and see how their days went.

I looked over the roster of names and with some trepidation decided to call Andi Prevost. My trepidation had nothing to do with Andi—she was a nice young woman from a public high school in suburban Kansas City. My trepidation came from how she would respond to my question—How was your day? (I didn’t feel like I should couch the question as bluntly as “Will you be coming back to be a part of YVC tomorrow?”)

Her mom got Andi on the phone, and as nonchalantly as I could, I asked my question. As only a high school girl can, she gushed about her day. She talked about the kids at the inner-city community center where she had volunteered, she talked about her Team Leader, she talked about the other teens on her team… On and on she went with little prompting from me. I’m not sure how many questions I could have formulated for Andi; I was overwhelmed in a way that doesn’t happen often in life. Her enthusiasm for service and for doing so with a diverse team of peers was validation that YVC was going to work. I knew then that Youth Volunteer Corps was going to be a success.

My conversation with Andi had energized me. I went on to call another Youth Volunteer that evening, and another and another. The responses were so heartwarming and inspiring, whether they came from boys or girls, public school kids or private school kids, those who lived in the inner city or suburbs, those who did human service projects or those who did physical service.

I never tire of talking to young people about their service with YVC. Indeed, I have been doing so for 25 years now. No matter how long I am blessed enough to hear the energy and idealism in a youth volunteer’s voice, I will never forget that call to Andi Prevost on Monday, June 8, 1987, at 5:30pm.

25th Anniversary: Celebrating the past and looking forward

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Twenty-five years ago, youth were embarking on the first YVC projects ever, serving at a daycare for kids with special needs and helping coordinate activities at community centers. This year, in celebration of YVC’s 25th Anniversary, youth are serving on projects just like those first ones.

That first week of projects in the summer of 1987, 53 Youth Volunteers served at six different agencies throughout the Kansas City area. This year, hundreds of youth are serving at dozens of locations throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Already this month, youth have been busy learning about water conservation and gardening in the desert with YVC of Southern Arizona, working at a camp for children with special needs with YVC of Muskogee, and socializing cats at the local animal shelter with YVC of Greater Kansas City.

Although the scope of YVC’s reach has increased since 1987, the projects themselves look the same. This summer youth will be serving on similar projects as those 25 years ago, and the structure of each project is the same too. Since the beginning, YVC projects have been structured purposefully to help build youth up and encourage them to develop a lifetime ethic of service.

Since research has shown that if young people’s first experience with volunteering isn’t positive they may be turned away forever, YVC projects are specifically designed to be a positive experience with youth—this means they are all group-based, organized by an adult Team Leader, and include icebreakers, team-builders and service-learning lessons. YVC was designed this way 25 years ago, and researchers are now beginning to back this method up.

Developmental Psychologist Dr. Marilyn Price-Mitchell studied the benefits of summer programs for teenagers and found that the success of an activity can be determined by three key factors. Below are the three factors to consider, followed by how YVC service programs incorporate them.

  • Are there opportunities for leadership? – YVC programs offer youth the chance to stand up and be leaders both on each service project and in developing overarching programing.
  • Are there opportunities for understanding? – YVC welcomes all youth and encourages them to challenge themselves. All YVC projects are led by adult Team Leaders, who are often just older than the youth themselves and can relate well to the youth.
  • Are there opportunities for friendships? – YVC projects always begin with icebreaker games so that youth can get to know each other, and Team Leaders promote an open atmosphere that helps youth feel welcome.

With 25 years of Youth Volunteers changing the world through their service, the answers to these questions are the same as they were in 1987 on those first YVC projects. The only difference is that now, YVC has the proof in stories of its own.

A Blossoming Story

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The following story is the first place submission of the YVC Transformative Story Grant. YVC of Alpena will receive a $1,000 grant and free registration for one person to attend the YVC Summit in November. This story was written by Brad Somers, Program Director of YVC of Alpena.

Alpena - Natalie DeFour Pic 2As the YVC director I have the opportunity to work with a diverse range of Youth Volunteers. One youth, Natalie, has been a constant inspiration and breath of fresh air since my inception with the program 4 years ago.

Natalie came to YVC looking to branch out and be more active in the community. She understood the value of giving back at a much earlier timeframe than most of her classmates.

Natalie struggles with extreme shyness. This may not sound like a debilitating hindrance, but it really held her back from opening up and getting to know individuals. As a director I wanted to see her flourish and be more comfortable in a group setting and have her voice heard. Natalie is a straight A student that has a lot of great things to say, but still had not learned how to use her voice. Through icebreaker and reflection activities Natalie was eventually put in situations before and after each project where she would have to share her thoughts and feelings. She slowly started to break out of her shell and actively engage in discussion.

Natalie is now a senior in high school and has earned the Volunteer of the Year Award performing over 400 hours of community service and the Youth of Year Award. She has earned the Presidential Service Award-Silver Medallion with her volunteer work. She now gives public speeches to community leaders, classmates, board members, and administrators from the area. She is the President of the YVC Youth Advisory Council and talks openly to new and potential members about the benefit of the program. She actively recruits with me and her voice is now being heard. There are so many wonderful things that she can let out. She has opened up others through her words and turned them on to volunteerism.

She attributes working with YVC as her outlet to express herself and credits the staff for allowing her to grow and have her voice heard. Teaching youth the skills to express themselves is a crucial part of the job and Natalie has not disappointed. She is a great asset to the YVC program and has really become my strongest leader and most vocal advocate, learning that being heard in the community is an important aspect to becoming a great leader and role model.

Congratulations to Natalie and YVC of Alpena!

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