Teens dedicate their summer vacation to service

YS- summer service-Alexis&KellyTeens have made a big splash during the YouthSERVE Summer Institute (YSI), with 34 participating youth serving at twelve different sites in Watsonville and Santa Cruz!

Teens volunteers spent the past six weeks packing and preparing food for low income families and the homeless population at Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes and the Food Bank. Volunteers also provided support to younger children by  teaching children guitar and coding during Youth N.O.W’s summer enrichment program, helping children build science projects at the Environmental Science Workshop and making encouraging cards and art projects for children with cancer and their families at Jacob’s Heart. Other volunteers assisted organizations that provide resources and support to families, seniors and survivors of violence.

I had a chance to sit down with third year YSI participant, Yesenia Abundis, and discuss the how volunteering has impacted her. “Over the past three years participating in this program, I really had the opportunity to develop communication skills, verbally and written. I used to dread making phone calls to people I didn’t know, now I can do it! I also got a lot of experience writing professional letters at the Watsonville Volunteer Center that I can use in the workforce and when communicating with teachers.” Yesenia went on to say “volunteering at different sites over the past three years has given me experience in different fields- food service, teaching, and office work. It’s pretty cool.”

YS-Anthony-webOn Fridays all the volunteers came together to participate in skill building workshops such as- Leadership Styles, Creative Facilitation, and resume building. Teens also benefited from fun field trips to the San Francisco Giants game, Google and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Not only have these teen volunteers gained valuable skills by participating in YSI, they have also learned that their work in the community is important. Yesenia shared, “Every bit helps, whether you help for an hour or three. During my first summer at PV Loaves and Fishes, we saw families everyday who were in need and I saw that the time we spent at Loaves and Fishes really made an impact to those that we served.”

Young people often face barriers to volunteering and require support and guidance to be the difference in our community. We are grateful to the staff at our 12 community partner sites that welcome teens into their organization. Service allows youth to explore their interests and the causes they care about, meet new friends, and understand the value of their time and talents, proving that there is no minimum age to begin making a difference.

We will be celebrating the contributions of the 34 YouthSERVE Summer Institute volunteers this Saturday, July 23rd from 12pm to 2pm at the Watsonville Plaza with a family BBQ. Watsonville Mayor Hernandez will be there to recognize the impact these dedicated teens have in our community.

All are invited to join us in honoring these fabulous young people.

Learn More about YouthSERVE


Photo Taken by Dan Coyro

Photo Taken by 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.

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