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2016 Annual Report

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Youth have changed the world through Youth Volunteer Corps in 2016. Meet just a few of these inspiring youth and learn of their impact in our 2016 Annual Report:

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2016 YVC World-Changer Award: Jessica Vu

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2016 World-Changer - Jessica Vu

Imagine volunteering 1,000 hours to your community. Then imagine serving that many hours before you even turn 17.

Meet Jessica Vu, a volunteer with YVC of Calgary. As a 16-year-old who has volunteered 1,082 hours with YVC, she owns that amazing accomplishment. Not only that, but she’s still an active YVC of Calgary volunteer, so she may serve even more hours with YVC before she ages out of the program.

We caught up with Jessica to learn about everything she’s experienced in these 1,082 hours:

What are some of your favorite YVC projects?

There’s such a wide range of YVC projects that it’s hard to choose just a few, it doesn’t help that I’ve done the majority of them too (at least in the Calgary Branch). My two favorite projects that I do regularly would have to be Salvation Army and Inn from the Cold. Both of them are very similar task-wise, however the atmosphere in the two places couldn’t be more different.

While both involve packing lunches and serving food to those in need, the Salvation Army works in a much bigger work space to serve a larger amount of people resulting in a fast paced work ethic and satisfaction of helping such a large crowd of people, which I love (the free food to the volunteers is a great bonus as well). Inn from the Cold works more personally with families in need, and on a much smaller scale. Although it is smaller than the Salvation Army, what it does for the community is no less, and it can always be seen in the gratitude shown by the families that it helps. Every season there are new special events, they are so much fun that I wish they occurred all year round.

The seasonal and special event projects that I absolutely love are Alberta Theater’s Legend Has It, Tackle Hunger Football Game, Cinderella Project, Daraja Foundation Fundraiser, and so many more. Each of them had unique tasks and experiences. I love being able to witness the event from both an attendee’s perspective and a behind the scenes shadow. I wish I could do these projects all again!

Why do you think it’s important to volunteer?

I once read a quote, “Volunteers aren’t paid because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless.” That is one of my favorite quotes to this date. Hundreds of thousands of people are homeless every year in North America. Many of their situations could happen to any of us, especially in the mediocre state of the economy right now. Canada in particular is suffering right now, and the number of those that are in critical financial situations has jumped by a large amount. Without donations and volunteers these people would be on their own, without aid.

The people that need help aren’t just limited to the residents of our own countries either. People all over the world are suffering from political oppression or the lack of access to necessities to live. That type of life is something we don’t wish for ourselves, so how can we wish of it on others? Volunteers are essential to spreading awareness and helping improve their lives. Most people don’t realize that helping others also helps themselves. I once watched a TED Talk called “How to Buy Happiness.” It described a study that showed people were happier when they used money to buy something for someone else, rather than themselves. I personally believe that if one expects help, whether consciously or not, then they must be willing to give help. Helping others can give people a sense of self-worth and belonging. I also often thought of volunteering as recreation time to relieve myself from the stress of school and the drama that takes place there.

What advice do you have for other youth hoping to earn the World-Changer Award?

The biggest challenge is definitely time management. School should always be a priority. My excess amount of volunteering actually helped me with my school work. Like most youth I would usually spend my time procrastinating and then finishing my homework last minute. Since most of the volunteer projects were on weekends, the time I would usually catch up on my homework, I was pressured to finish at earlier times.

It also helps tremendously to have a schedule. I don’t mean just reminders on your cell phone, but an actual calendar with the dates, times, and addresses of the projects (with consideration of transportation) and other important events. I mostly transit to my projects as well and take advantage of that time to work on school assignments.

Another motivator is volunteering with friends. When I have friends with me I view volunteering as a normal event where you’re hanging out with friends, while giving a little help while you’re there. However, it’s not the easiest to convince friends to volunteer. When I started volunteering with YVC I had no previous friends who were volunteering with me. It was during this time I started to socialize more with my fellow volunteers, and as I began volunteering more and more I often made new friends or became familiar with other frequent volunteers. Some of my closest friends are people I met through volunteering.

Congrats, Jessica, on the World-Changer Award, and thank you for all of your service!

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2016 YVC World-Changer Award: Leo Wang

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2016 World-Changer - Leo Wang

Many adults would consider it an accomplishment to volunteer 1,000 hours in a lifetime. Meanwhile, a few incredible youth serve that many hours before turning 19.

Meet Leo Wang, a volunteer with YVC of Calgary. He recently broke the record for the most hours served with YVC in our recorded history. Leo has served 1,225 hours with YVC of Calgary so far, and at just 17 years old, he’s still volunteering and racking up even more hours.

Leo has served with YVC of Calgary for just over three years, so yes, he’s averaging 400 hours per year! He can’t pick a favorite project because he thinks they’re all great, but over the years he’s made a difference in his community through all kinds of projects, from soup kitchens to retirement homes.

Does Leo’s name sound familiar to you? It may be because his brother Maichael earned the World-Changer Award in 2015. We’re impressed with the dedication to service from the entire Wang family, and we wonder whether some friendly sibling rivalry may be born out of Leo’s new record!

Congratulations, Leo, and thank you for your many hours of service!

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Reflections on 10 Years of YVC

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Paul Marksbury_webIn 10 years with Youth Volunteer Corps, I have had the good fortune to be many things. I have held numerous titles from Team Leader to Program Director to Affiliate Services Manager (to name a few). I’ve played a variety of roles including manager, trainer, fundraiser, MC, evaluator and sounding board. I was even Kermit the Frog once.

I have traveled across the country (and Canada!) meeting, training, evaluating and learning from hundreds of dedicated youth, program staff, Executive Directors, agencies, funders and other stakeholders. In rural Iowa, I sunk a rented van full of youth deep in the mud of a project site. In downtown Kansas City, I helped push HQ’s ‘94 Lexus (Alex) out of the way of rush hour traffic when it ran out of gas (we really need to fix that fuel gauge). I witnessed the devastation of Katrina firsthand as well as the motivation of YVC youth to rebuild. I have held my breath to shovel rotting grain from steel drums in the heat of the Kansas summer and released my inhibitions to dance on stage with a special needs theater group. I’ve played Two Truths and a Lie so many times I don’t even know who I am anymore.

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I’ve also been lucky to take on new roles in my personal life during this time, including uncle, father, and husband. All of those milestones were enriched by the fact that I was able to earn a living doing what I loved.

At YVC, we measure our impact, among other methods, by number of hours served. Since I started as a Team Leader in September 2006, I have devoted approximately 21,000 hours to this mission. While most of those hours were paid and do not compare to the millions of volunteer hours served by our amazing youth, they do represent what has been the lion’s share of my life for more than a decade. I am proud to have dedicated it to a noble cause.

With the support and guidance of some amazing supervisors and colleagues and the inspiration provided by the thousands of youth who have passed through YVC during my time, I have been lucky to contribute my energy and skills to strengthening this unique and wonderful network of youth advocates. I have witnessed YVC evolve into what I believe is the strongest position in its history. I have learned much more than I have space to describe here, but I want to share some of the more important lessons:

  1. 1. Never underestimate (or undervalue) the impact YVC is having. I have heard countless stories of youth turning a corner with their behavior, realizing a new skill, and simply making a connection with someone they would never normally cross paths with, all through YVC. Lives are changed forever by this work.
  2. 2. Don’t get hung up on the numbers. While we love to see programs grow and engage more youth in more hours, I have always tried to convey that we value quality over quantity. We know if youth have a negative service experience, we could lose them forever—our mission backfires. Focus on making each project as meaningful as possible, which is the essence of the YVC model, and the numbers will follow.
  3. 3. The solutions to (most of) your challenges already exist somewhere in the YVC Network. Either a fellow Program Director in another community, a resource in the YVC library, a staff member here at HQ, or a dedicated Youth Advisory Board has the answer. All you have to do is ask.
  4. 4. Expand your definition of what service is and can be. I envision a world where giving back is as routine and ubiquitous as going to school or working. Many people still share a limited perception of what service is (picking up trash, reading to children, serving meals at a shelter, etc.). This limits the potential of service to reach a higher level of prominence. I would love to see the word “volunteer” become obsolete because it’s no longer something we do but rather who we are: caring citizens who act on their beliefs.
  5. 5. When things get stressful or you question the value of what you’re doing, stop. Step back from your desk and think about that one Youth Volunteer. You know who it is. She may have passed through the program early in your tenure. He may still be active to this day. He’s the kid whose parents signed him up against his will but ended up having a great time and coming back. She’s the one who grew from a shy, awkward 12-year-old to becoming YAB president at 17. Whoever it is, focus on them. What did YVC do for them? What will they become thanks to your efforts? Odds are there are dozens or more youth like that whose lives you’ve touched through YVC. Never doubt you are changing the world, one youth at a time.
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The past 10 years and all those roles have prepared me well for this next chapter in my life. I will be acting on one of my passions, animal welfare, by serving as the Director of Operations for Lawrence Humane Society in Lawrence, Kansas. I am leaving the Affiliate Services department in the highly capable hands of Leah Boal and Amanda Moser, who have both graciously stepped up to take on additional responsibilities.

I will miss YVC and all of you immensely, and I offer my deepest gratitude for your support and hard work over the years advancing this vital mission. My last day at Youth Volunteer Corps is November 30, at which point I will assume my final role: former staff member and lifelong YVC advocate.

From all of us at YVC, thank you Paul, for 10 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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Reflections at 100

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Earlier today I walked off a boat and onto land. There is nothing particularly special about that other than this was, for me, a special step. For I was stepping on land in my 100th country—The Gambia in West Africa.

It seems a natural time to reflect on what all these miles and experiences over my 53 and a half years have meant. First of all, it strikes me, “Is this is an achievement at all…or simply the result of a man with too much disposable income and too much free time?”

Mexico-1977

So very few people in this world have the opportunity to travel. My travels have taught me that. Through travel I have been exposed to the plight of the destitute in Calcutta and Kabul and of the oppressed in today’s North Korea and yesterday’s Romania.

The utter grandeur of our natural world has left me breathless. None more so than the overwhelming assault on the senses that occurs upon being next to Iguazu Falls in South America—the deafening noise, the heavy mist, the sun, the butterflies, and the multiple rainbows in the mist. Talk about feeling small and insignificant.

Kenya-1983

I have marveled at a lioness and her cubs under the puffy clouds of Kenya; floated in the salty, smelly water of the Dead Sea in Israel; flown over the majestic mountains of New Zealand’s South Island; and felt compelled to stop and get out of the car along a busy section of Interstate 70 one late afternoon with my father in my native Kansas to drink in a magnificent double rainbow.

Travel has taught me grit, especially in my younger days when travelling on the cheap meant staying in crowded hostels and enduring bumpy and dusty bus rides. Eating the free food on planes was a luxury.

China-1984

I’ve had to figure out how to communicate when languages didn’t mesh, how to avoid being ripped off on the canals of Bangkok, where to sleep at midnight in Tulsa when the town was full, and how to get my weary, out-of-shape body to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.

To travel is to trust. In most of my 100 countries I didn’t speak the language, didn’t know the customs and was there in a time before the resources of the internet were available on your phone. I was like a baby—completely reliant on others.

Ireland-1993

Some dozen years ago, my girlfriend and I were driving on a dirt road in a very remote part of Costa Rica. We were unsure of our path and I was relieved to come upon an old man walking on the side of the road. I knew he would not speak English so I simply pronounced, as best I could, the name of our desired village. The gentleman pointed in a direction; I said a heartfelt “Gracias,”; we went on our way.

My girlfriend then asked me something that had never crossed my mind, “How do you know he didn’t purposely point us in the wrong direction?” After a long pause all I could mutter was, “To travel is to trust.” My trust was deep-seated and powerful—built on having heeded directions all over the world from so many people just like this poor, uneducated man. Ten minutes later we arrived in our desired village. To travel is to trust.

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My travels have convinced me that it is human nature to want to help. Hundreds of times I have been helped by strangers who I will never see again and who will receive no financial benefit. They have recommended restaurants, warned me of potential hazards, changed my flat tire, and provided insights into their culture. The few times I have run into those wishing to take advantage of me, it has been those who approached me. I have never been led astray by just going up to someone and asking for help. After our interaction, I often sense their pleasure in having helped a person in need.

Tanzania-2011

Obviously, I love to dream about, plan, and go on trips to destinations near and far. Nonetheless, it has been through travel that I have come to appreciate the subtle, yet ultimately more satisfying joys of home. Home, it’s where the food is familiar, the language flows, people know you, and the bed is comfortable. So it is both understandable and ironic that this traveler’s favorite saying, only able to be whispered quietly to himself on certain special mornings, whether he’s been away two days or six months is, “Today, I’m going home.”

The-Gambia-2016
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Congratulations to 299 Youth Milestone Award Recipients

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2016-youth-milestone-awards-recipients
 
Congratulations to the recipients of the 2016 Milestone Award! Each year we give out three categories of awards to extraordinary youth who have volunteered an impressive number of hours with YVC.

The 100-In-1 Award is for youth who have volunteered at least 100 hours with YVC in a single year. The Ethic of Service Award is for youth who have volunteered at least 500 hours with YVC in their career. The World-Changer Award, YVC’s most prestigious award, is for youth who have volunteered at least 1,000 hours with YVC in their career.

During the award ceremony at Summit 2016, we gave out 292 100-in-1 Awards, 10 Ethic of Service Awards and 1 World-Changer Award. Below is the incredible list of youth making huge differences in their communities:

World-Changer Award Recipient:

Kayla Russell – Muskogee, OK

Ethic of Service Award Recipients:

Brandon Briggs – Alpena, MI
Aubrey Grimshaw – Cedar City, UT
Bailee Jordan – Anderson, SC
Troy Mcclendon – Kansas City, MO
Chelsea McDaniel – Alpena, MI
Patton Meacham – Kansas City, MO
Christian O’Neal – Alpena, MI
Sarah Parker – Anderson, SC
Bryan Perez – Muskogee, OK
Jessica Vu – Calgary, AB

100-in-1 Award Recipients:

Raneen Abdul-Rahman – Calgary, AB
Laura Akey – Ann Arbor, MI
Jalynn Allen – Muskogee, OK
Abdul Al-Shawwa – Calgary, AB
Connor Altman – Kansas City, MO
Lily Arens – Kansas City, MO
Vanessa Arges – Calgary, AB
Abdulrahman Ayad – Kansas City, MO
Asma Azad – Calgary, AB
Kiana Baghban – Calgary, AB
Erin Bailey – Kansas City, MO
Cali Basey – Kansas City, MO
Pawan Bath – Calgary, AB
Garrett Beaulieau – Alpena, MI
Heidi Becker – Kansas City, MO
Audra Beeson – Muskogee, OK
Adam Benmoussa – Ann Arbor, MI
Seryna Bergstrom – Muskogee, OK
Raunak Bhagat – Calgary, AB
Ben Bialek – Ann Arbor, MI
Finley Bickford – Kansas City, MO
Alexus Blosch – Muskogee, OK
Miranda Blosch – Muskogee, OK
Alyssa Bly – Kansas City, MO
Devin Bly – Kansas City, MO
Morgan Bowers – Kansas City, MO
Joslyn Bowman – Kansas City, MO
Lyra Boyce – Ann Arbor, MI
Natalia Bozek – Calgary, AB
Alex Bratton – St. Joseph, MO
Ava Bridges – Kansas City, MO
Saeem Brooks – Philadelphia, PA
Quincy Brown – Kansas City, MO
Chloe Buchler – Alpena, MI
Brett Budnik – Alpena, MI
Josh Bunsis – Ann Arbor, MI
Danielle Buschman – Cedar City, UT
Sammie Buschman – Cedar City, UT
Josie Butler – Kansas City, MO
Stephanie Caballero – Calgary, AB
Sarah Campbell – Ann Arbor, MI
Maxwell Campbell – Kansas City, MO
Dominick Caones – Calgary, AB
Tony Capilla – Muskogee, OK
Ned Capuano – Ann Arbor, MI
Alexis Carlton – Muskogee, OK
Morgan Carter – Cedar City, UT
Harrison Castillo – Kansas City, MO
Julianna Caton – Ann Arbor, MI
Bethany Chan – Calgary, AB
George Chandy – Philadelphia, PA
Kaitlyn Chanthaseng – Calgary, AB
Beatrice Chen – Ann Arbor, MI
Jia-an Chen – Ann Arbor, MI
Dewey Chen – Calgary, AB
Melody Chen – Calgary, AB
Sarah Chen – Calgary, AB
Dana Chhuor – Calgary, AB
Joy Chiles – Philadelphia, PA
Joan Chu – Calgary, AB
Teller Clark – Kansas City, MO
Kaitlyn Conner – Muskogee, OK
Mariah Connor – Kansas City, MO
Jessica Corpuz – Calgary, AB
Allison Cowherd – Ann Arbor, MI
Marianne Cowherd – Ann Arbor, MI
Samson Dabney – Ann Arbor, MI
Samuel Daniels – Muskogee, OK
Shovon Das – Calgary, AB
Duante Davis – Kansas City, MO
Jadon Dester – Ann Arbor, MI
Denise Diaz – Muskogee, OK
Preston Diemond – Alpena, MI
Emily Digiovanni – Ann Arbor, MI
Bryan Dorsey – Kansas City, MO
Katie Dotson – St. Joseph, MO
Stevie Dotson – St. Joseph, MO
Gracie Dunn – Muskogee, OK
Dominic Ebberts – Kansas City, MO
Samantha Epp – St. Joseph, MO
Wejdaan Faridi – Calgary, AB
Viviana Fermaint – Newport News, VA
Ty Fix – Kansas City, MO
Leah Fleming – Ann Arbor, MI
Sam Fleming – Ann Arbor, MI
Alana Freeman – Kansas City, MO
Malik Freese – Kansas City, MO
Maurice Freese – Kansas City, MO
Laura Frost – Kansas City, MO
Olivia Fryer-Merlet – Corvallis, OR
Sanako Fujioka – Ann Arbor, MI
Aurora Fuller – Ann Arbor, MI
Ethan Gilworth – Kansas City, MO
Zachary Goldberg – Ann Arbor, MI
Areen Goraya – Ann Arbor, MI
Sayhaan Goraya – Ann Arbor, MI
Alejandra Guevara – Ann Arbor, MI
Lucas Guevara – Ann Arbor, MI
Calla Ha – Calgary, AB
Samantha Hamil – Muskogee, OK
Javid Hamilton – Kansas City, MO
Andrew Hartje – Kansas City, MO
Elizabeth Hartje – Kansas City, MO
Nate Hawley – Ann Arbor, MI
Nathan Hawthorne – Kansas City, MO
Brittany Hermawan – Calgary, AB
Grace Hopewell – Kansas City, MO
Anna Horning – Ann Arbor, MI
Madison Horton – Cedar City, UT
Samuel Hunt – Muskogee, OK
Vivian Huynh – Calgary, AB
Ellys Ilagan – Calgary, AB
Ryan Ittyipe – Calgary, AB
Kaleb Jackson – Manhattan, KS
Mason Jackson – Manhattan, KS
Jenna Jarjoura – Ann Arbor, MI
Layla Jarjoura – Ann Arbor, MI
Laura Jarriel – Anderson, SC
Rose Jasman – Alpena, MI
Clayton Jennings – Kansas City, MO
Livia Johnson – Ann Arbor, MI
Whitney Jones – Ann Arbor, MI
Zoe Jones – Ann Arbor, MI
Bailee Jordan – Anderson, SC
Carter Jordan – Anderson, SC
Allison Kania – Alpena, MI
Iman Kassam – Calgary, AB
Sakshi Kaur – Calgary, AB
Emma Kiernan – Danbury, CT
Minhee Kim – Calgary, AB
Phoebe Kinch – Ann Arbor, MI
Kyra King – Kansas City, MO
Jazmyn Kinney – Kansas City, MO
Aislinn Kinsella – Kansas City, MO
Cassidy Kirkland – Kansas City, MO
Leah Knack – Muskogee, OK
Emma Kobelsky – Calgary, AB
Vincent Kong – Philadelphia, PA
Michelle Korostensky – Calgary, AB
Linden Kronberg – Ann Arbor, MI
Noah Krueger – Kansas City, MO
Angela Kuang – Calgary, AB
Dalton Lam – Calgary, AB
Bridget Lawson – Ann Arbor, MI
Jim Le – Calgary, AB
Tommy Le – Calgary, AB
Richard Lee-Thai – Calgary, AB
Kristen Lefort – Cedar City, UT
Maya Lektser – Calgary, AB
Amanda Leong – Calgary, AB
Ranmeixue (Michelle) Li – Calgary, AB
Ronica Li – Calgary, AB
Susan Li – Calgary, AB
Colton Loney – Calgary, AB
Lexis Ly – Calgary, AB
Claudia Maguire – Ann Arbor, MI
Raisa Mahmud – Calgary, AB
Sebe Maier – Ann Arbor, MI
Brandi Manning – Alpena, MI
Trey Manning – Alpena, MI
Aryonna Manz – Kansas City, MO
Deon Marie Cain – Muskogee, OK
Jendaya Marsh – Kansas City, MO
Rachel Mazalo – Calgary, AB
Troy Mcclendon – Kansas City, MO
Haily McCullough – Ann Arbor, MI
Danielle McDaniel – Alpena, MI
Patton Meacham – Kansas City, MO
Sydney Meek – Cedar City, UT
Soham Mhaskar – Ann Arbor, MI
Christian Mikos – Kansas City, MO
Rina Mikos – Kansas City, MO
Martina Min – Calgary, AB
Ian Mitchell – Kansas City, MO
Tyler Mitchell – Kansas City, MO
Didi Moffat – Calgary, AB
Javon Mormon – Kansas City, MO
Daria Mukovenkova – Calgary, AB
Fazeela Mulji – Calgary, AB
Phoenix Myles – Kansas City, MO
Korrine Nelson – Danbury, CT
Heather Ngo – Calgary, AB
Darin Nguyen – Calgary, AB
Elvira Nurmambetova – Calgary, AB
Jasmine Oidi – Calgary, AB
ShairaMae Oidi – Calgary, AB
Landon Osipik – Kansas City, MO
Starshine Palmer – Kansas City, MO
David Pang – Calgary, AB
Connor Parille – Danbury, CT
Junha Park – Calgary, AB
Olivia Parrish – Kansas City, MO
Evelyn Peng – Kansas City, MO
Kandace Peroramas – Calgary, AB
Vic Phan – Calgary, AB
Patrick Philbin – Ann Arbor, MI
Stephen Philippou – Ann Arbor, MI
Alexander Plata – Ann Arbor, MI
Rodolfo Plata – Ann Arbor, MI
Elizabeth Potterf – Kansas City, MO
Jackson Powers – Ann Arbor, MI
Rachel Powers – Ann Arbor, MI
Elena Puckett – Cedar City, UT
Lilly Puckett – Cedar City, UT
Stephanie Pye – Calgary, AB
Valentina Quick – Kansas City, MO
Vera Quick – Kansas City, MO
Noah Radford – Kansas City, MO
Fairuz Raisa – Calgary, AB
Fraaz Rana – Calgary, AB
Erik Rangel – Cedar City, UT
Urouj Rashid – Calgary, AB
Adam Rasmussen – Alpena, MI
Elijah Reische – Ann Arbor, MI
Christin Rey – Kansas City, MO
Trevor Rey – Kansas City, MO
Isabella Rezanka – Ann Arbor, MI
Anna Rinvelt – Ann Arbor, MI
Ella Roberts – Ann Arbor, MI
Teavion Robertson – Ann Arbor, MI
Chase Robertson – Kansas City, MO
Valencia Rodrigues – Muskogee, OK
Amy Rodriguez – Ann Arbor, MI
Miriam Rodriguez – Calgary, AB
Halle Romine – Cedar City, UT
Kayla Russell – Muskogee, OK
Catherine Sanchez – Ann Arbor, MI
Nia Saxon – Ann Arbor, MI
Ethan Sayer – Ann Arbor, MI
Charlie Seely – Ann Arbor, MI
Mira Shetty – Ann Arbor, MI
Dina Shoham – Calgary, AB
Olga Shtepa – Calgary, AB
Matthias Siber – Danbury, CT
Elizabeth Simmons – Ann Arbor, MI
Nick Simon – Kansas City, MO
Kimberly Simpson – Cedar City, UT
Melanie Sing – Calgary, AB
Sarthak Singh – Calgary, AB
Julia Slack – Kansas City, MO
Davion Smith – Muskogee, OK
Allyah Smith – St. Joseph, MO
Trey Smith – St. Joseph, MO
Rachel Stander – Kansas City, MO
Assata Starks – Kansas City, MO
Eliza Steinberg – Ann Arbor, MI
Matthew Stoll – Ann Arbor, MI
Danny Stukes – Kansas City, MO
Aaron Sweet – Ann Arbor, MI
Jennifer Szutu – Calgary, AB
Kylie Tacey – Bay City, MI
Cynthia Tang – Calgary, AB
Megan Taylor – Ann Arbor, MI
Jasmine Taylor – Kansas City, MO
Nikila Taylor – Kansas City, MO
Princess Thomas – Kansas City, MO
Darrel Thomas – Muskogee, OK
John Tomlinson – Kansas City, MO
Bre’anna Torres – Kansas City, MO
Andy Tran – Calgary, AB
Jimmy Truong – Calgary, AB
Jadyn Underwood – Kansas City, MO
Alex Valenzuela – Kansas City, MO
Dakotah VanGordon – Muskogee, OK
Kritin Vasamreddy – Kansas City, MO
Gina Vasey – Ann Arbor, MI
Katherina Vo – Calgary, AB
Roman Vomacka – Calgary, AB
Fiona Wait – Ann Arbor, MI
Cynthia Wang – Calgary, AB
Leo Wang – Calgary, AB
Tom Wang – Calgary, AB
Morgan Weatherbie – Calgary, AB
Ryan Welp – Kansas City, MO
Madisen Werner – Cedar City, UT
Glenn Whitebell – Ann Arbor, MI
Alexandria Whitten – Baton Rouge, LA
Raasch Williams – Ann Arbor, MI
Rachel Williams – Kansas City, MO
Kaci Wilson – Baton Rouge, LA
Nicole Wlasitz – Calgary, AB
Morgan Woloszyk – Alpena, MI
Laurea Wright – Ann Arbor, MI
Austin Wylie – Ann Arbor, MI
Brian Wylie – Ann Arbor, MI
Wendy Xu – Calgary, AB
Jeffrey Yang – Philadelphia, PA
Linda Zhang – Calgary, AB
Dylan Zhao – Calgary, AB
Jenny Zhao – Calgary, AB
Lilian Zhou – Calgary, AB
Wassim Zrikem – Ann Arbor, MI

Congratulations to these all-star Youth Volunteers!

The Milestone Awards were announced during the Award Ceremony at the YVC Summit. We’re celebrating the 2016 award winners this week on the blog. Read about this year’s Affiliate of the Year, Program Director of the Year, Project of the Year, New Affiliate of the Year, AmeriCorps Member of the Year and World-Changer Award.

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2016 YVC World-Changer Award Recipient: Kayla Russell

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2016-world-changer-award
 
At the YVC Summit each year, we honor youth who have volunteered at least 1,000 hours with YVC in their careers by presenting them with a World-Changer Award, the most prestigious youth milestone award.

Kayla Russell, Youth Volunteer from YVC of Muskogee, is the sole recipient for the World-Changer Award this year.

“Kayla personifies the spirit of service to others,” said Eileen Van Kirk, program director for YVC of Muskogee. “Through her volunteer service with YVC of Muskogee and her work with young children in her church’s youth group, Kayla has impacted many lives. She is a kind and caring young woman who truly has a heart for service.”

Kayla has volunteered a total of 1,038.75 hours with YVC of Muskogee. She is ranked sixth in terms of hours volunteered with YVC programs throughout the U.S. and Canada in the program’s 29-year history.

“She has been a YVC volunteer for over 6 years, during which time she made several international missions trips, bringing her many experiences back to share with us. Kayla plans to be an international aide nurse,” said Eileen. “I look forward to another year of YVC with Kayla and hope she will return as a Team Leader during the summers.”

Congratulations, Kayla, and thank you for devoting so many hours to making a difference with YVC!

Youth Milestone Awards were announced during the Award Ceremony at the YVC Summit. We’re celebrating the 2016 award winners this week on the blog. Read about this year’s Affiliate of the Year, Program Director of the Year, Project of the Year, New Affiliate of the Year, AmeriCorps Member of the Year and stay tuned to meet the remaining Youth Milestone Award winners.

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2016 AmeriCorps Member of the Year: Brooke Mainville

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Congratulations to Brooke Mainville, the 2016 recipient of the AmeriCorps Member of the Year Award!

Brooke is currently serving her second term with Youth Volunteer Corps of Alpena, MI, hosted by the Boys and Girls Club of Alpena. Dozens of AmeriCorps members serve at YVC programs throughout the country, and Brooke was given this top honor.

Brooke has been an outstanding AmeriCorps member who sets the example of service for the youth at her local YVC along with AmeriCorps members throughout the country. She helped YVC of Alpena have one of their best years yet last year, with 409 youth serving 9,514 hours.

Brooke has set the example of service for both her fellow AmeriCorps members and the youth that she leads through her local YVC. It’s clear that she’s had quite an impact on her community!

Boys and Girls Club of Alpena’s Executive Director Brad Somers sent in a few words about the impact that Brooke has had: “We could not think of a better representative of the Boys and Girls Club and Youth Volunteer Corps program, and you deserve all the accolades that you get. You’re an amazing asset to our organization. You do great with the kids, you rally them together for a common purpose and get them to do great acts of selfless things here in our community. Thank you so much for all the things you’ve done for the Boys and Girls Club, Youth Volunteer Corps and the Alpena community.”

We are so grateful for Brooke’s service to YVC through AmeriCorps, and we look forward to seeing what she’ll accomplish through a lifetime of service!

The 2016 AmeriCorps Member of the Year was announced during the Award Ceremony at the YVC Summit. We’re celebrating the 2016 award winners this week on the blog. Read about this year’s Affiliate of the Year, Program Director of the Year, Project of the Year, New Affiliate of the Year and stay tuned to meet this year’s Youth Milestone Award winners.

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2016 New Affiliate of the Year: Des Moines

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

Congratulations YVC of Des Moines for earning the 2016 New Affiliate of the Year Award! YVC of Des Moines, hosted by Community Youth Concepts got off to an incredible start with 61 youth serving 517 hours in their first year. YVC of Des Moines hosted 42 projects benefiting 11 local agencies last year.

YVC of Des Moines launched in part due to the support and passion of Bob Bush, a community volunteer who was inspired by YVC’s mission and determined to bring it to his community. He researched local organizations to see which might be a good fit to launch YVC, and he discovered that YVC was a perfect fit for Community Youth Concepts’ mission and goals.

Within the first year, YVC of Des Moines set a strong foundation based on quality service-learning and youth development and has already become a model for YVC programs everywhere to follow.
Congrats YVC of Des Moines!

The 2016 New Affiliate of the Year was announced during the Award Ceremony at the YVC Summit. We’re celebrating the 2016 award winners this week on the blog. Read about this year’s Affiliate of the Year, Program Director of the Year, Project of the Year, and stay tuned to meet this year’s AmeriCorps Member of the Year, Youth Milestone Award Winners and more.

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2016 Project of the Year: YVC of Muskogee, OK

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Each year, youth serve on thousands of projects with Youth Volunteer Corps programs across the U.S. and Canada. This past year, a total of 4,050 different projects were completed through YVC! YVC Youth Volunteers serve their communities in a variety of ways – from projects at retirement homes to thrift stores and community gardens to river banks.

At the annual YVC Summit, we announce the Project of the Year Award to honor the most engaging of these service projects that integrates high-quality service-learning.

Congratulations to YVC of Muskogee, hosted by Muskogee Parks and Recreation, for the 2016 Project of the Year! They earned this honor for their project called “Animal Antics” that was done with the Parks and Recreation’s Bark Park, a community dog park.

We loved this project because it’s a great example of how service can truly be fun!

On Tuesdays and Thursdays this summer, youth walked and washed dogs at the animal shelter. On Mondays, they worked at the new Bark Park demonstrating and cleaning the equipment, passing out information on summer pet care, and giving away homemade dog biscuits. On Wednesdays, they had a table at the local Farmer’s Market with information on adoptable animals.

“It was wonderful how the community, agencies, individuals, and an energetic group of youth who love animals, worked together to make Animal Antics such a successful project,” said Eileen VanKirk, program director for YVC of Muskogee.

In addition to their Monday – Thursday project schedule, they collected cans and other donations for P.A.W.S (Promoting Animal Welfare Association) and Coins for Critters. Each week they visited a different local organization or individual who was actively involved in responsible pet ownership, including a vet’s office, an emergency center for injured animals and local pet stores.

“Our Youth Volunteers’ amazing energy and desire to do that ‘one more thing’ and talk to ‘one more group’ was so inspiring to me and the groups we worked with,” said Eileen. “I think the youth even surprised themselves at how much they accomplished.”

Here at YVC we are dedicated to making sure that every service project is not only beneficial to the community, but also presents service-learning in a fun environment, and this project did just that. Everyone involved in Animal Antics learned a lot about pet adoption and ownership, and YVC of Muskogee has plans to incorporate elements of the project into their school-year program.

The 2016 Program Director of the Year was announced during the Award Ceremony at the YVC Summit. We’re celebrating the 2016 award winners this week on the blog. Read about this year’s Affiliate of the Year, Program Director of the Year, and stay tuned to meet this year’s AmeriCorps Member of the Year, New Affiliate of the Year and more.

Don’t miss a single story of youth changing the world through service! Sign up for our monthly newsletter here:

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