My experience with YVCKC has been short but powerful in its effectiveness to display the importance of volunteering and giving back to the community that has raised me.
I have lived in Kansas City my entire life. I have cheered for the Royals as they have continued their infamous losing streaks and find creative new ways to lose. I have toured the Federal Reserve Bank, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (shuttlecocks and all), and the World War I museum. I have shopped on the Plaza. Yet, through all these experiences, I failed to recognize the whopping 15.1% of people who live below the poverty line, the number of animals that go abused and neglected, the choices that people must make between getting medical care for a beloved pet or putting food on the table, and the buildings that remain run-down and even decaying, all within our community.
All of this is what made my experience with YVC-of Greater Kansas City so powerful. The ability of the organization to introduce kids in the greater Kansas City community to the poverty surrounding them is what makes YVCKC a game-changer and maybe even a life-changer.
My first project was at the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City where our group folded newspapers and towels, helped prepare race bags for the annual Dog-n-Jog, and played with kitties. Although these tasks may seem insignificant, the impact they had on the youth who got to see the kittens sleeping on the newspapers and cleaned with the towels was significant.
During my week at the animal shelter, one Youth Volunteer decided that she wanted to do more to help those poor animals without a family. She told me and my fellow leader that she planned to organize a drive in her neighborhood to collect toys and leashes for the cats and dogs at the Humane Society.
These are individual experiences, but collectively they convey one of the most important life lessons anyone can learn: that people can make one small corner of the world a better place and they can inspire other people to do the same. The fact that just showing a young girl the suffering happening in her community sparked a desire to help raises hope that the next generation will be one that gives back.