Young Volunteer of the Year Award Presentation

2019 Young Vol­un­teer of the Year Spotlight

This fall, KYC was thrilled to spe­cial­ly rec­og­nize the extra­or­di­nary efforts of two ded­i­cat­ed vol­un­teers as the 2019 Vol­un­teer of the Year and the 2019 Young Vol­un­teer of the Year, a new award to cel­e­brate a youth vol­un­teer. Each of their con­tri­bu­tions has helped shape the course of KYC’s pro­gram­ming as they worked to pro­vide bet­ter out­comes for our com­mu­ni­ty members.

2019 Young Vol­un­teer of the Year: Faith!

Faith and Mom

A year ago, Faith was a new stu­dent at Conant, hav­ing just moved to Illi­nois from Ten­nessee. Then a sopho­more, she knew she want­ed to get involved in her new school and her new com­mu­ni­ty. Ken­neth Young Center’s Youth Advi­so­ry Coun­cil (YAC) hap­pened to be recruit­ing for new mem­bers at the same time that Faith was in search of new oppor­tu­ni­ties. She talked with KYC staff, learned more about the YAC, and decid­ed to go to her first meeting. 

She learned that mem­bers of the YAC par­tic­i­pate in pre­ven­tion efforts and local pol­i­cy imple­men­ta­tion process­es that are intend­ed to decrease sub­stance use rates among youth. Although she had nev­er worked on any sub­stance use pre­ven­tion projects before, she imme­di­ate­ly felt that she would be able to make an impact, and that her voice would tru­ly be heard. One year and lots of hard work lat­er, KYC couldn’t be more proud of the incred­i­ble work that she has done and the great things she has helped the YAC and her fel­low stu­dents to accomplish.

Mak­ing An Impact

Young Volunteer of the Year Landscape

The YAC cre­ates anti-sub­stance use cam­paigns that tar­get a num­ber of dif­fer­ent sub­stances, but Faith has been espe­cial­ly pas­sion­ate about the work she’s doing to pre­vent vap­ing among her peers. She feels that vap­ing has become a huge epi­dem­ic, and she knows that this is a true chal­lenge that peo­ple are fac­ing right here, in her school, and in her com­mu­ni­ty. Although she hasn’t lived here for long, she has tak­en great steps towards mak­ing her new home a lit­tle bit health­i­er for everyone.

Through her expe­ri­ence with the YAC, Faith has quick­ly learned steps that can lead to decreased sub­stance use, how to edu­cate the com­mu­ni­ty to help solve these issues, and how to imple­ment the resources that are need­ed to sup­port healthy choic­es. Faith and oth­er stu­dents who work on the anti-vap­ing cam­paign part­ner with admin­is­tra­tors at their schools and lead­ers in the com­mu­ni­ty to devel­op and imple­ment strate­gies that res­onate with young peo­ple. Their strate­gies have proven suc­cess­ful in large part because their cam­paigns are designed col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly, with mem­bers of their tar­get­ed age demo­graph­ic – stu­dents – lead­ing the charge.

This is some­thing that Faith rec­og­nizes as a pow­er­ful oppor­tu­ni­ty. As a young per­son in the YAC, her opin­ions are sought, her insight is val­ued, and her advice is trans­lat­ed direct­ly into the action plans for YAC cam­paigns. She feels sur­round­ed by a sup­port­ive team of peo­ple all work­ing to make a dif­fer­ence. She is ener­gized by the group’s plan­ful focus on action, and she gets to wit­ness first-hand the impact that her work has on her peers.

Grow­ing Leaders

Young Volunteer Award Presentation1

In addi­tion to her dri­ve to cre­ate health­i­er com­mu­ni­ties as a whole, Faith is also pas­sion­ate about lead­er­ship devel­op­ment, both for her­self and among her peers. 

One of Faith’s favorite oppor­tu­ni­ties that has been offered to her through the YAC was her chance to attend a CAD­CA (Com­mu­ni­ty Anti-Drug Coali­tions of Amer­i­ca) train­ing con­ven­tion. There, she learned how to cre­ate suc­cess­ful anti-sub­stance use cam­paigns. Per­haps even more impor­tant­ly, she felt that she was auto­mat­i­cal­ly treat­ed as a leader from the moment she arrived at CAD­CA. This expe­ri­ence helped her learn about her­self and huge­ly expand­ed her lead­er­ship skills. She con­tin­ues to strength­en those skills and main­tains an image of her­self as a leader through her work with the YAC.

Faith also works to inspire and edu­cate her peers through the school club that she found­ed – the Black Leader Achiev­ers (BLA) club. She saw a need for a stu­dent club focused on lead­er­ship devel­op­ment, and a need for a club focused on black edu­ca­tion and cul­ture. She decid­ed to found a group that com­bined the two, and cre­at­ed the BLA. Faith had a per­son­al dri­ve to start this club, too. She feels that her moth­er and grand­moth­er taught her how to be con­fi­dent when she has an opin­ion, which Faith rec­og­nizes as an invalu­able les­son. Now Faith wants to ensure that her fel­low stu­dents all have a chance to learn this, and is pass­ing along that dri­ve through the BLA.

Get Involved!

Faith enjoys learn­ing, grow­ing, and mak­ing an impact. She doesn’t think of her vol­un­teerism as work – she’s just doing what she likes doing, and she wants to share it with oth­ers. Her goal is to edu­cate oth­er oth­ers about how to be health­i­er, how to grow in lead­er­ship, and how to find oppor­tu­ni­ties to do good things. She encour­ages any­one inter­est­ed in vol­un­teer­ing to just go for it – test it out, take new oppor­tu­ni­ties, and don’t be afraid to move on to some­thing new if you don’t find the right fit right away. 

Ken­neth Young Cen­ter and the YAC are thrilled that Faith has cho­sen to share her time and tal­ents with us, and con­grat­u­late her once again on being named the 2019 Young Vol­un­teer of the Year!

Are you look­ing for an oppor­tu­ni­ty to make an impact as a vol­un­teer? Check out Ken­neth Young Cen­ter’s Vol­un­teer roles here! Learn more about the YAC and the Com­mu­ni­ties for Pos­i­tive Youth Devel­op­ment (CPYD) Coali­tion here.

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No one who achieves suc­cess does so with­out the help of oth­ers. The wise and con­fi­dent acknowl­edge this help with gratitude.

—Alfred North Whitehead