Teens Making it a Summer of Service in Santa Cruz County

Every summer, teens make a difference in their community at non-profit organizations through YouthSERVE Summer Institute. During this six week program, youth volunteer and participate in workshops and field trips that give them tools that will be beneficial to them in their future careers. Youth choose where there would like to volunteer based on their interests and skills, such as agriculture, computer science, and teaching. On Fridays, volunteers learn about applying to college, go to a San Francisco Giants game, tour the NHS skateboard factory, and more.

For kids, this can be a great way to spend their summer. Instead of sitting on the couch and watching television, they can spend up to 16 hours weekly helping make their community a better place and learning skills they will use for the rest of their lives.

I decided to do a summer internship at the Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County because of the great opportunity that the program offers. I am able to have a positive influence on the community with the guidance of my supervisor, and I can experience a workplace as I am beginning to look at colleges and my future.

Students interested in technology and graphic design, spend the summer at the Digital Nest in Watsonville. Youth there learn about the Digital Nest’s role in our community. One of our volunteers shared that they wanted to start there because they “passionate about programming.”

Artistic and creative youth who want to help the senior community, enjoy their time at Elderday. Youth ages 15 and older can put a smile on someone’s face when they spend time doing activities and helping them with their everyday tasks. One volunteer at Elderday is excited to “make a difference in the community,” “help the people in need,” and get work experience.

The Environmental Science Workshop (ages 13+), and the Homeless Garden Project (ages 16+) are better for youth that want to do hands-on work. The Environmental Science Workshop teaches tool use and science, and youth at the Homeless Garden Project will be in the garden and kitchen. One of these volunteers shared that they look forward to their internship because “summer is a time for new adventures and opportunities and this program will allow me to put my energy into work that not only affects my perspective on life but the people I work with and the community around me.”

The Volunteer Center is proud to offer this free opportunity for growth and experiential learning for 16 youth from across our county this summer. You can support this program by donating to YouthSERVE. 

If you are looking for youth-friendly volunteer opportunities, check out our Youth Summer Volunteer Guide


Blog post written by Maddy Jin, YouthSERVE intern at the Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County. She will be a sophomore at Santa Cruz High School and enjoys playing softball.

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