[Alpena, MI] – Youth Volunteer Corps programs across the US reported that summer Youth Volunteer participants not only felt a stronger connection to their community after volunteering, but felt empowered to make a difference and would continue volunteering in the future. This was very evident with the youth from Alpena who stepped up and volunteered nearly 3400 hours of service to the community just during the summer program helping out non-profit agencies like NEMCSA, United Way, Boys and Girls Club, Alpena County Library, among many others.
“Our goal at YVC when designing Youth Volunteer projects is to engender a lifetime ethic of service,” said Brad Somers, Director of the YVC program. We have a lot of fun during the summer program helping out with a diverse range of projects and try to fill the needs of the community wherever we can. The youth get become more in tune with their community and gain a voice amongst area leaders. A goal of the program is to build leaders through volunteerism and for the youth to realize their potential as productive citizens.
A great number of Youth Volunteers (11-18) participated in the 12 week 2012 Youth Volunteer Corps summer program in the Alpena area. YVC used pre and post surveys to gather Youth Volunteers’ perceptions of volunteering, their understanding of community needs and their satisfaction with the YVC projects. The results are as follows:
Percentage of Youth Volunteers who reported an improvement in their responses or maintained high responses to the following:
- 89% of teens felt a strong connection to their community
- 66% of teens felt a strong connection to people in their community who are different from them
- 79% of teens felt they have the power to make a difference in their community
- 87% of teens felt good about themselves for volunteering
Percentage of Youth Volunteers who answered positively to the following:
- 99% indicated volunteering helped them know more about their communities’ needs
- 86% indicated their YVC project forced them to think differently
- 93% indicated their YVC project helped them understand people who are different
- 93% indicated their YVC project taught them something they didn’t know
- 96% indicated they will continue to volunteer in the future.
Leah Simon, a Youth Volunteer from Alpena adds, “I like volunteering because I like to give back to my community and I will continue to volunteer in the future because it makes me feel great about myself and others.”
“It is a heart warming feeling when Youth Volunteers are empowered by the work they do for their communities and become more comfortable with diversity and stepping up to help others,” said Somers. “This is further evidence that when teens are given a well thought out, well designed program, volunteering can make a huge difference in their lives and their communities.”