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Happy 25th Anniversary to YVC of Alpena, MI!

Posted by Youth Volunteer Corps on

Attend just one project with YVC of Alpena, MI, and it’s obvious to see how profound their impact is on their local community. The Youth Volunteers are called upon to help serve meals, clean parks, plant gardens and so much more.

With 25 years of service to their community, YVC of Alpena youth are known for their energy, enthusiasm, and most of all service.

In the 25 years since YVC of Alpena launched, thousands of youth have made a difference in their community, and they’ve found that this service has in turn transformed them.

Happy 25th Anniversary, YVC of Alpena! We’re in awe of everything youth have accomplished in the last 25 years and can’t wait to see what they’ll do in the years to come.

Thank you to Boys and Girls Club of Alpena for hosting the YVC of Alpena program for 25 years!

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Honoring a Legacy: MLK Day of Service 2017

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Earlier this week, hundreds of Youth Volunteers chose to turn their day off into a day on for service. Youth Volunteer Corps teams across the country honored Dr. King’s legacy by serving their communities to make their piece of the world a little bit better.

Check out what just some of these inspiring Youth Volunteers accomplished:

YVC of Reading, PA, planned an MLK Day celebration for two branches of their local Boys and Girls Club that involved crafts, games and more.

 

YVC of Hampton Roads, VA, helped with yardwork and maintenance at a local family homeless shelter.

 

YVC of Kansas City, MO, planned an MLK Day of Service activity for kids at Y Club, where the youth helped the younger kids through a variety of service stations to help their community.

Thank you to everyone who made a difference in honor of MLK Day of Service!

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On Presence: Notes from a Team Leader

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The following is written by Surline Jolicoeur, an AmeriCorps Member and Team Leader with YVC of Danbury, CT.

This past weekend, our YVCers took part in a kindness project for Ben’s Bells in Bethel, CT. As the snow flurries descended from the sky and created a coat of white fluff on the ground, the Youth Volunteers and I barely noticed as we became enraptured in the moment that we were in.

In a world where everyone’s attention is always divided due to the distractions that bombard us daily, it is rather rare to spend over an hour and a half enthralled in great conversation.

Typically, as a Team Leader, I make it my mission to capture the moments of our volunteers serving their communities and that day was no different. In other words, my phone is always on me or in my hand poised to take a picture. I planned on taking numerous photos of our amazing YVCers to put up on our social media. However, once our project began, I decided that I wanted this project to be different. I took my phone out of the vicinity because I wanted the next hour or so completely dedicated to them.

It. Was. Magical.

Our youth have so much to say in regard to what they think, feel, and aspire to be. However, rarely do adults take the time out to really listen. We often rationalize it by simply stating, “They do not know what they are talking about. They’re still young.”

We couldn’t be more wrong.

In the span of an hour and a half, I sat enthralled at the sheer wisdom that these young people possess. They think differently, yes. But, that is what makes them so awe-inspiring. They love the arts, music, history, philosophy, STEM and numerous other things since they constantly want to be learning something new.

Let me put it this way:

How many times a day do you type a question in on Google simply because you are curious as to what the answer may be? If you all are anything like me, I would say numerous times per day. Our Youth Volunteers do the exact same. They are thirsty for knowledge and insight on what the world has to offer but that often gets lost in the belief that they only care about superficial things.

As Team Leaders, it is our job to reinforce and encourage that quest for knowledge and information within our Youth Volunteers. Teaching them that they are exactly who and what and where they are supposed to be goes a long way as well.

Therefore, I urge all our Team Leaders to put down the phones and give yourself a chance to experience what I did this past weekend. In that small studio tucked away behind a small shopping center with the snow falling in earnest, I learned a very valuable lesson that I will always carry with me…“Wherever you are, be all there.” -Jim Elliot 

Thank you, Surline, for these wise words and for all you do for youth and the community!

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YVC’s 30th Anniversary

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david-1987-201730 years ago, I believed that youth could be empowered to make a difference and that when they stepped forward, they could truly change the world. It was a risk. Few people thought that we’d be able to convince teenagers to volunteer over the summer instead of working a job. But we took the chance.

Three decades later more than 300,000 youth have volunteered with YVC in big cities, small towns and rural communities throughout North America.

Youth have visited the elderly, cleaned up parks, played with little kids and truly transformed communities. In the process, they’ve racked up a total of more than 4.5 million hours of service and been honored by mayors, governors and even presidents.

Join us in this 30th Anniversary year to celebrate the amazing accomplishments of our inspiring Youth Volunteers. I’m in awe of everything that youth have accomplished, but I’m even more amazed when I think of all that they will accomplish in the years to come. Join us throughout this year as we celebrate our inspiring Youth Volunteers.

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Top 10 Posts of 2016

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2016 was an incredible year for Youth Volunteer Corps, with Youth Volunteers making a difference in their communities across North America. Below are the top stories of the last year:

10. Reflections at 100

Founder and President David Battey visited his 100th country in 2016 and reflected on his travels over the years.

9. 2016 World-Changer Award: Leo Wang

YVC of Calgary volunteer Leo broke the record for the most hours volunteered with YVC.

8. Meet Simone: YVC AmeriCorps Member of Spring 2016

Simone is one of our amazing AmeriCorps members who empower youth to make a difference in their communities.

7. Building a Career on the Foundation of AmeriCorps

Victoria attributes her career success to her start with AmeriCorps and YVC.

6. Announcing YVC Day

We announced the first-ever YVC Day in 2016, where thousands of youth served together in honor of YVC.

5. Youth Volunteer and Teacher Connect Through Sign Language

This YVC project gave 13 year-old Heidi the chance to practice her sign language skills in the real world.

4. The Second Sunday of Every Month

Mackenzie shares about her experience on our International Youth Advisory Board and how it’s impacted her.

3. 10 Ways to Make a Difference this Valentine’s Day

We think that volunteering is one of the best ways to share your love with others! Check out these 10 ideas for how to spread some kindness on Valentine’s Day or throughout the year.

2. 2016-2017 International Youth Advisory Board

Thousands of youth volunteer with YVC each year, and just a few are selected to serve as leaders on an international level on our International Youth Advisory Board. Meet this incredible team!

1. Congratulations Gold Level YVC Programs!

We honor the top YVC Affiliates each year with the Gold Level rating. Meet last year’s honorees, and stay tuned soon as we announce our latest Gold Level programs!

Thank you for an incredible 2016! Join with us as we celebrate our 30th Anniversary in 2017 with a year of impact.

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A Message from the Founder & President

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david-1987-2016When I founded Youth Volunteer Corps nearly 30 years ago, I never could have imagined where we are today. More than 300,000 youth have volunteered with YVC over the years in big cities, small towns and rural communities throughout North America.

Youth have visited the elderly, cleaned up parks, played with little kids and truly transformed communities. In the process, they’ve racked up a total of more than 4.5 million hours of service and been honored by mayors, governors and even presidents.

I’m in awe of everything that youth have accomplished, but I’m even more amazed when I think of all that they will accomplish in the years to come. When it seems that our nation is more divided than ever, YVC is more necessary than ever. YVC unites youth from all backgrounds with one goal: to make a difference.

We need your help to reach out to even more youth and empower them to serve. Will you partner with me in this life-changing movement? Donate today.

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2016 Annual Report

Posted by Youth Volunteer Corps on

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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