It’s only week four of my Bank of America Student Leader internship – the halfway point – and I’ve
already had a wide range of great experiences. I spent a week mulching a trail at the Sanctuary of Hope
retreat center for their annual 5k run. The next few days, I developed close bonds with kids from low-
income homes at the Head Start program. Last week, I harvested crops with Farmer Joe at J-14, an
organic farm that gives food to shelters and food kitchens.
These were awesome projects, but they only offer a glimpse of what YVC does for the greater Kansas
City area. Their task sounds simple: gather teens from around the city to work on a variety of week-
long community service projects that benefit the disadvantaged. At first, I didn’t understand why youth
would want to volunteer during the summer—but that was before I met the amazing youth who serve
YVC is made up of a group of amazing people from different backgrounds, all coming together to do
what they love: changing our community for the better. I decided to apply for the internship because of
my dreams of climbing the ranks in corporate America one day and building partnerships with charitable
organizations. I never imagined that I’d find a love for mentoring youth, a vast appreciation for social
justice majors, and an ambition to eventually come back and work in a nonprofit.
Throughout my teen years, I’ve been passionately involved in serving others. I’ve witnessed poverty in
Belize and South Africa, and I’ve raised thousands of dollars for Haiti and Joplin disaster relief. YVC takes
a different approach by choosing local projects that might not get many volunteers but desperately
need the help. From daycares to thrift stores to farms, the work gives me a chance to connect with and
impact people all across the metro area. It’s one thing to travel or send money to a third world country
or disaster-stricken area; it’s another to serve the people in your own town, your neighbors and your
I’ll never forget how appreciative the workers at Sanctuary of Hope retreat center were for our work on
the trail. I’ll always treasure the sense of relief the Head Start teachers had when they saw us playing
with the kids, so they could crank out piled-up paperwork. I’ll cherish the satisfaction of watching
Farmer Joe deliver our harvested crops to the home of an elderly couple. And I’ll be forever inspired by
the enthusiasm that each Youth Volunteer brings to work each day.
“When I pulled up to work on sign-up day at five in the morning, there was a line wrapped around
the block of eager youth waiting to sign up for their projects,” Chris Miller, YVC of Greater Kansas City
program director said about the day that YVCKC began accepting youth applications for its Summer of
These are the youth who would give up their summer to volunteer. Youth who care more about making
a difference than playing video games or hanging out at the pool. Youth who would wake up early just
to be the first to sign-up for a specific volunteer project. Thanks to these youth, I can brag to my friends
about having the best summer job ever!