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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