Be the Difference for Local Youth

Reading Buddy Mentor reading with studentAt the Watsonville Volunteer Center, I am fortunate to witness moments when individuals come together and bring exuberant vitality and security to our community.

Cesar Chavez said, “From the depth of need and despair, people can work together, can organize themselves to solve their own problems and fill their own needs with dignity and strength.”

This team-work and problem solving that Cesar Chavez speaks of is displayed every Thursday afternoon at Starlight Elementary School in Watsonville, when ten YouthSERVE Reading Buddies Project volunteers dedicate their time and talents tutoring K-2nd grade students to help them develop a love of reading and ensure they do not fall behind. The same team work and problem solving occurs every Saturday morning at Senior Tech Day when youth volunteers tutor seniors in technology so seniors can stay connected with loved ones who live on the other side of the world.

When I opened my email to find that our very own Reading Buddies tutors, Lilian Constanza, Yesenia Abundis, and Marisa Upson were selected for the Cesar E. Chavez Community Awards, I felt so proud because I know these ladies realize that the positive changes we seek do not depend on simply talking about a solution.  They are willing to put in the work for action and are so deserving of recognition. These young ladies, along with seven other individuals, were chosen for this award because of their community involvement, volunteerism, and non-violent resolution: for their impactful actions in the community.

Yesenia Abundis said, “The award meant a lot to me. The fact that we were awarded with an honor like this shows that anyone can really make a difference in their community, even if it’s just showing a kid how to properly pronounce “where.” It was a reassurance that all the work we put in always pays off in the end even in the most subtle ways.”

Their recognition demonstrates that empowering our youth through service enables our community to become stronger. Volunteering is so great for teens because it is not only an opportunity for teens to address our community’s needs, it is a chance for teens to explore their interests, improve and gain new skill sets, and to be the difference.

You can be the difference for youth by donating to the YouthSERVE Summer Institute (YSI). The YouthSERVE Summer Institute provides 30 teens (ages 14-17) with the opportunity to share their talents with local nonprofits for six weeks. Volunteers serve at a nonprofit organization and participate in skill building workshops and engaging field trips. Orientation is Wednesday, June 8th and programs run from June 13th through July 22nd.

We can only take as many teens as we raise scholarships for – make a gift today to empower our teens!

Donate to the YouthSERVE Summer Institute

Do you know a young person who would like to participate in the program? Download an application  and return it as soon as possible to reserve a spot!

For more information, please  email Desiree Farnal or Donna Patters or contact us at (831) 722-6708.


Photo Taken by Dan Coyro

Photo Credit: Dan Coyro

Blog Post written by YouthSERVE Coordinator Desiree Farnal. Desiree is a third year AmeriCorps Member who has given over 3500 hours to empowering young people. She was recently named the 2016 Catherine Milton California AmeriCorps Member of the Year for the substantial impact she has made with youth in Santa Cruz County.




Share this: