small businesses that never stay in business very long. Why is this important? Peculiar has been my
home for the past seven years. It helped me utilize my passion for helping others through church and
school-related community service, but it was nothing compared to the experiences the Youth Volunteer
Corps has given me.
For my first site I went to TurnStyles, a thrift store that supports a local human services organization. I
came in not knowing a lot about YVC or the organization I would be working with that week of summer
programming. At first I didn’t understand what ten volunteers, a Team Leader, and a Student Leader
could do to make a difference inside a store. By the end of the week, however, I was hooked on shopping
in thrift stores and working with organizations that create stores like TurnStyles to benefit a bigger cause.
Throughout the rest of the weeks of the summer programming, I saw a visible difference in the work we
were doing. By rearranging furniture and making it look more appealing, we increased sales, which not
only benefited the organization, but it also helped out the purchaser. Walking dogs while at the animal
shelter Unleashed! seemed like a meager task, but sometimes the only time to the animals can run
around is when volunteers from organizations like YVC step in to help out. The most shocking one of all
was playing dodgeball at Camp Empowerment, a camp for inner-city youth. If someone were to tell me
that they helped out their community by playing dodgeball with a bunch of high school students, I would
have laughed. But in reality, that is what we did. We gave inner-city students the chance to interact with
people their own age, and we broke down the differences between us.
When I really got to thinking about how much YVC has impacted my life in the past five weeks, I realized
that my life was not the important one. If I was changed this much in just a few weeks, I can only imagine
the impact these experiences have had on the Youth Volunteers, especially those that have been
volunteering here for years!
The Youth Volunteers have definitely been the best part of the summer. I have not only seen a change
in my community, but I have seen a change in the youth that come from different schools, cultures, and
backgrounds just to volunteer. If they were placed in a classroom together, some of them might have
never spoken words to each other, but through the simple act of giving back, they are breaking down
barriers. I feel so honored to help lead these youth and watch as they see what a difference they are
making. I admire their commitment to making that difference even if it isn’t the “cool thing” to do. It is
students like these that will change the world. It takes a special kind of person to dedicate one week, two
weeks or even all eight weeks to making the place they live in a better place.
I grew up knowing that there was a need for help in third-world countries, but I often forgot that there is a
need in my own community. My biggest wish is that through the opportunities the Youth Volunteer Corps
offers to the youth around the Greater Kansas City area is that they will understand that they don’t have
to look far to make a difference. The opportunity could be just down the street from them.