“Volunteering was the start of social work for me.”

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Ariel Green was awarded second place and a $100 prize for her submission to the 2017 Alumni Story Contest. Green served as a youth volunteer with YVC of Baton Rouge from 2012 to 2013. 

Read her story submission and see how YVC changed her life below.


Here at YVC I participated in many projects. There are three projects I recall that were most memorable. My first project as a volunteer consisted of putting together military care packages. Other volunteers and I were stationed at a warehouse with lots of supplies. The warehouse was stocked with items like toiletries, snacks, and words of encouragement. I was responsible for packing the female bags with a variety of each necessity. This project was memorable and exciting because I was challenged to think on behalf of someone else’s need. I worked hard and made sure each box was packaged with care and the best items were selected.

The next project that was most memorable was Christmas wrapping. Christmas is my favorite time of the year. It is filled with joy, love, and the gift of giving. I was able to participate in the project of gift wrapping for children ages 5-18. It was very fun picking out gifts and giving back to those who are less fortunate. I envisioned smiles on the youth faces and served with a heart of love. This project made me feel most grateful; it was pleasing to be a blessing to someone else. I also realized how blessed I was.

The last project I recount serving with YVC was donating books to a local library. During this time I sorted out new and gently used books that were being donated to a new library in the community. Being able to be a part of the set up process for a new library was a great experience. I organized a variety of genres for readers. Although it was tedious, it was all for a benefiting cause. Working to build another library in the community was definitely a need. Because of this, students will now have access to more resources and the establishment of this library will help eliminate educational barriers.

My time with YVC has been very enlightening. Since my time in high school, I have grown and matured a lot. I realize the importance of volunteering. Before YVC I had no desire to volunteer. After each project I participated in came a moment of reflection and appreciation. I was able to meet new people, work with others, and learn more about myself during the different projects. The organization has influenced me to always pay attention to the needs in my local community, work to alleviate problems within the community, and give back.

I aspire to one day have my own community organization that will work to empower and educate women from all walks of life across the nation. I plan to have yearly conferences, workshops, and community drives that will help them continue to reach their goal of success. With my organization I also plan to implement events that will give them and others the opportunity to volunteer.

As a future Social Worker, my job is to advocate for resources and services in the community while helping families and individuals continue to function in society. Volunteering was the start of social work for me. My passion for others has lead me to always work hard so I can one day be the best social worker and make the world a better place. As I continue to seek wisdom and grow, I know that because of organizations like Youth Volunteer Corps, a special seed was planted in my heart. YVC has brought out some of the best skills in me like leadership, and has inspired me to serve. The foundation, people, and experience impacted my life and I will forever serve others in my community.

“I felt like I was making a difference.”

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Keleey Naughton was awarded first place and a $200 prize for her submission to the 2017 Alumni Story Contest. Naughton served as an AmeriCorps member with YVC of Corvallis from 2014 to 2015. 

Read her story submission and see how YVC changed her life below.


I remember so clearly the day that I accepted the position as an AmeriCorps member with YVC Corvallis. I was going to be moving from Chicago to Corvallis, OR, I had just graduated college, and I had no idea what to expect of the year ahead. I was scared and nervous, but, somehow I knew that the year ahead would be well worth it. So, that August I packed up my car and drove across the country to begin my AmeriCorps term with YVC. I knew it was going to be a fun and challenging year, but I had no idea what an impact the YVC program and the youth volunteers themselves would have on my life.

Service has always been a big part of my life. In high school, I was a member of my church’s youth group and regularly completed service projects around town. In college, I volunteered on campus and at the nursing home nearby. Although I enjoyed service, I never had the opportunity to be part of a service-minded group until I found YVC. I remember being at the YVC Summit in Kansas City, and looking around the room and seeing and feeling all the passion and energy of those in the room. I felt like I had finally found my niche, and that’s how I continued to feel throughout my year serving with YVC. I loved going to the schools and talking to classes about YVC and encouraging the students to come out and give it a try, because for the first time in my life I felt passionate about the work I was doing. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was making a difference.

Over the course of my twelve-month term I met an incredible group of youth volunteers who will inevitably change the world one day. I learned and grew so much that year, thanks to our amazing youth volunteers. I learned how to knit at our MLK Day knitting party that our YAB organized in which we donated all our knitting projects to the local youth shelter. I gained event management skills alongside our YAB when we planned our 20th Anniversary Fun Run/Celebration. I cried tears of joy with our youth as animals that we worked with weekly at the local animal shelter found their forever homes. I laughed harder than I’ve ever laughed while playing games and doing icebreakers in the mornings during our summer program. I sweated more than I’ve ever sweat as I worked alongside our dedicated youth in 100-degree weather shoveling up manure at a farm sanctuary we volunteered at. I learned the value of hard work and service with these youth. I feel so incredibly grateful for my time spent serving my AmeriCorps term with YVC of Corvallis.

After I completed my AmeriCorps term, I went on to work for a year at the local youth shelter, one of the non-profits in town that our YVC program supported. One of the big things I brought to the youth shelter is volunteerism. A lot of these youth had never had the opportunity to volunteer in their life and I organized volunteer projects for them. I showed them the value and joy of service, and watched them grow as a result of that service. I have since moved on to a new career path, but continue to stay involved in my community through multiple volunteer opportunities. I’m not quite sure where my life or career will take me in the future, but I know that I will always make volunteering a priority in my life. Thank you, YVC and all the YVC volunteers, for all that you do.

Here’s Your Chance to Join Our Team

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Want to make a positive difference while sharpening your skills? Do you like the idea of working at a nonprofit and helping to make the world a better place? Haven’t decided what direction you want to take next?

Youth Volunteer Corps is now hiring for two full-time, 12-month AmeriCorps VISTA positions. Strong skills are definitely needed, but experience isn’t required. Training and resources will be provided to you.

These positions are excellent for skill building and work experience. Start date will be in mid-September 2017, but you must be selected and confirmed by mid-August.

Interested? Click here to learn more.

2017-2018 International Youth Advisory Board

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2016-2017 IYAB members

Above: The 2016-2017 IYAB at last year’s Summit in Philadelphia, PA. The new members of IYAB will meet for the first time in-person at Summit 2017 in October.

Introducing the 2017-2018 International Youth Advisory Board! Thousands of youth serve with YVC each year, and these 21 youth represent each of them. They focus on providing input on all aspects of YVC programming on an international level while also bringing new ideas back to their local YVC programs.

The application process was very competitive this year, so we are excited to announce the following youth as the 2017-2018 International Youth Advisory Board:

  • Janelle Cook – Alpena, MI
  • Kaci Wilson – Baton Rouge, LA
  • Mia Upshaw – Baton Rouge, LA
  • Martina Min – Calgary, AB
  • Jessica Vu – Calgary, AB
  • Ian Gimino – Corvallis, OR
  • Katie Nelson – Corvallis, OR
  • Jessica Hovermale – Corvallis, OR
  • Avery Putnam – Danbury, CT
  • Maya Patel – Hampton Roads, VA
  • Paula-Ann Robertson – Hampton Roads, VA
  • Zoe Thompson – Kansas City, KS
  • Julia Slack – Kansas City, KS
  • Troy McClendon – Kansas City, KS
  • Ava Reese – Manhattan, KS
  • Samuel Parish – Muskogee, OK
  • Dante Diggs – Philadelphia, PA
  • Jessica Jiang – Philadelphia, PA
  • Lily Franey – Reading, PA
  • Payton Beaumier – Sioux City, NE
  • Leah Craig – St. Joseph, MO
Stay up to date on everything this all-star group of youth will accomplish this year by signing up for our monthly youth service newsletter:

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“Giving back for everything I’ve received.”

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Korrine Nelson of Danbury, Conn., identifies with the people she serves on a deeper level than most.

Korrine knows hunger.

She knows homelessness.

She knows what it’s like to depend on the charity of others.

“Before my mom passed away, we had a lot of money issues,” said the 17-year-old.

In 2013, Korrine’s mother lost her business and her family was thrown into a state of financial insecurity. Soon, Korrine was forced to sleep in other people’s homes, eventually living in a homeless shelter for four months.

During that time, she depended on charity to get things she needs like clothes and shoes.

Later that year, her mother died, and Korrine moved to Danbury to be raised by her aunt.

“When I moved to Connecticut, my aunt was looking for something for me and my cousin to do,” Korrine said,  explaining how she got her start with the local Youth Volunteer Corps affiliate.

Four years later, Korrine has become an integral part of the service group while working on projects like painting a garden wall and blacktop area.

Now Korrine serves as president of their Youth Advisory Board. Her cousin serves as vice president.

“I like to work with the less fortunate,” Korrine said. “I’ve gone from having more money to needing donations and now being stable.”

The challenges Korrine has faced has inspired her to seek out and help community members who are facing challenges of their own.

Knowing the struggles of poverty, she’s now seeking to pay it forward.

“That’s the biggest thing for me—giving back for everything I’ve received,” said Korrine.

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Volunteering Earns Students Full-Ride Scholarships

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In the past 30 years, YVC has changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of young people. But for three Youth Volunteers from Cedar City, UT, YVC has impacted them in a very special way- volunteering earned them each full-ride scholarships to college. Meet these three stellar students:


A freshman studying math and economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Aubrey credits YVC with helping her get into her dream school and believes that YVC taught her the value of teamwork.

“I never could have gotten into MIT if it weren’t for YVC,” she says. “Out of all the lessons YVC has taught me that have helped prepare me for my future, I’d say teamwork has been the most important. It’s helping me to succeed at MIT right now, and I can’t wait to see how it will continue to help me succeed.”

Aubrey holds the lessons she’s learned from volunteering close to her heart.

“I got to meet interesting people, listen to their life stories and passions, and help them pursue those passions even by doing something as simple as making sure a family has food for the day,” she says. “It challenged me, inspired me, and brought me outside of whatever bubbles I might have been living in before. Volunteering has changed my life and continues to change it for the better daily.”


Kaylin is pursuing a nursing degree at Southern Utah University and says, “Without YVC I would not have found my passion nor would I have developed the necessary compassion that I need to have for my field.”

Like Aubrey, Kaylin feels that volunteering has impacted her entire identity. “In everyday life I experience the effects of being a volunteer,” reflects Kaylin. “I am kinder, more reliable, more studious, adventurous, more of a leader and less of a follower.  I am able to look outside of myself and see others in their circumstances.”

Kaylin encourages all young people to get involved in their community and strongly believes that when youth give back, everyone benefits.

She says, “Every community has a need, and when people come together, especially young people, the community is impacted in a very positive way.  Volunteering helps youth to practice being contributing citizens in their community and when they do it often it creates a habit which hopefully will continue over time.”


Matthew is currently serving a year abroad on a mission and will attend Southern Utah University when he returns. With a passion for serving the next generation, he plans to study secondary education to become either a music or history teacher.

Matthew served over 800 hours with YVC, and he thanks YVC for giving him opportunities that he otherwise would not have had.

He says, “Participating with YVC and giving back to my community has allowed me to excel academically, opening doors to leadership roles in the orchestra, the madrigal choir, the cross country team, and my school’s student government.”

Congratulations to these three inspirational students on their achievements. They are making the world a brighter place through their commitment to service! Aubrey, Kaylin, and Matthew are just a few of the 300,000+ youth who have changed the world with YVC over the last 30 years. Stay tuned throughout our 30th Anniversary year to hear more of these inspiring stories and see how our youth are building the future today.

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YVC Day 2017: Throwback to 1987

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to everyone who helped make YVC Day unforgettable!

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The End of a Chapter

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Lacey Helmig, Communications and Media Coordinator

I had no intention of moving across the country for a job. But when I came across the opportunity to serve as an AmeriCorps member with Youth Volunteer Corps, the chance to work with youth and inspire them to be lifelong volunteers was enough to draw me 1,800 miles away from my southern Oregon home.

For some reason I had the faith to move across the country after only a brief phone interview for a position in a city I’d never been to, and just weeks later, my little yellow car was filled with everything I owned. It chugged its way up the Rocky Mountains and descended into the flattest terrain I’d ever seen.

I had the opportunity to do more in my first year of YVC than many other people do in the first few years of their career. I networked with dozens of local nonprofits, oversaw a communications strategy, taught a service-learning curriculum at an alternative school, planned a summer service program for hundreds of youth and helped coordinate events.

My year of AmeriCorps service turned into a year and a half on staff with YVC of Kansas City as the Assistant Program Director, and that turned into five years on staff with YVC Headquarters as the Communications and Media Coordinator.

I’ve had the opportunity to visit YVC programs from coast to coast and met the most amazing youth and the adults who empower them.

I launched an International Youth Advisory Board and had the chance to work with 86 youth on this board over the last four years who set such a strong example of service and leadership that adults should be taking notes from them.

I’ve accumulated so many YVC T-shirts over the years that I could wear a different one every day for more than three weeks.

Now seven and a half years after my yellow car arrived at the YVC office, I’m packing up my desk and preparing to say goodbye.

YVC has inspired me, challenged me and formed me into who I am today. The YVC family has been there for me as I’ve laid down roots in Kansas City, gotten married, bought a house and become a mother.

Saying goodbye to YVC is the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, but it’s time for the next step. I’m excited to be joining the Truman Library Institute’s team as Director of Communications.

I’m not the same person I was when I entered the YVC office. I can now lead an icebreaker game for a group anywhere from two to 200 people with no advanced planning or supplies. I know the most efficient way to mulch a nature trail, even in 100-degree weather. I can pack up the inventory of the YVC Store in suitcases to fly across the country for a YVC Summit.

Most of all, I’m forever changed by the inspiring Youth Volunteers, AmeriCorps members and YVC staff I’ve had the privilege of working with. The very first youth I worked with 7.5 years ago have already gone on to college and are starting careers, and now I get the joy of watching them live out the YVC mission of a lifetime ethic of service.

I’m closing the door on my chapter working for YVC, but the best thing is you never have to leave the YVC family. My years with YVC will always be with me, and I look forward to stepping into my next role as an alum, volunteer and donor.

Lacey Helmig is the Communications and Media Coordinator for YVC. She began with YVC as an AmeriCorps member in 2009, where she learned from Youth Volunteers the most efficient way to spread barkmulch, how to play Ninja, and the undeniable fact that youth can change the world.

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

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

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

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

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

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A New Volunteer Takes the Lead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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