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Introducing the Youth Volunteer Corps



The organization I work for was started in Kansas City in the 1980's by a man named David Battey. It now has over 50 member sites all over the United States and Canada. Those of us in the Kansas City branch have the advantage of working in an office shared by the national staff. David even comes in periodically. You can learn more at the YVCA website if you're interested.

The Kansas City Branch consists of 5 team leaders (I am one of them), the program director (my boss), and the program cultivation artist. You can meet the team here. Warning: my bio is pretty cheesy. 

Anyway, my job has three main parts (for now).

The first is an after-school project. Every Thursday, I bring a group of youth volunteers (11-18 years old) to a place called Operation Breakthrough

 Operation Breakthrough is both a day care and an alternative school for children living in poverty. 98% of the children are living below the poverty line. 25% of them are in foster care. Another 25% are homeless. My group gives these kiddos attention. We play games with the kids, we read to them, color pictures, do homework - whatever they need.
I made this recruitment poster for Operation Breakthrough.
On Wednesday mornings, I work with Associated Youth Services, an alternative high school for long-term suspended students. 
 
On these days, the students are the volunteers. Thus, sometimes I give a lesson, and other times we all go somewhere for a service-learning project around Kansas City, KS.


The other team leaders have their own in-school and after-school programs. The activities, ice-breakers, and lessons are all planned and executed by the team leader in charge. However, another really important part of my job is the weekly Saturday project. All of the team leaders sort of collaborate for these projects. We try to have at least two projects available every Saturday for volunteers.


How do we set up these projects? I'm glad you asked. That's an important part of my job - finding nonprofit organizations that need help. Once I've found one, I set up a Saturday with them, bang out the details of the project - number of volunteers needed, orientation, supplies - and discuss it with the other team leaders. Once a project has been confirmed, I recruit volunteers. Some of this is done for me by judges. Lots of kids (or their parents) call our office because a judge ordered them to gain X many volunteer hours before such-and-such a date, and YVC is one of the best ways they can get those hours. Other volunteers are students who need it to graduate or to be in NHS, 4-H, their Homeschool group, or what-have-you. Still others are just kids with bad home situation that just want to get away and make some new friends.


Then, we work on the learning part of the service-learning project. Generally, this takes the form of a short lesson, an educational activity, or a talk from a representative of whatever nonprofit we happen to be working with. Finally, we designate a team leader (or two, if it's a bigger project) to lead the project, and when Saturday rolls around, that leader meets the youth and bam - the work gets done. So far I've worked at a couple of urban community gardens, a homeless shelter, an arboretum, and a nature sanctuary. 


So there are three components - in-school, after-school, and Saturday projects.


That's it for now. I'll talk about more of my duties in later posts.
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