Volunteer Calgary is pleased to present the Leader in Volunteer Engagement Award. This award honours a non-profit organization that has developed an innovative and successful volunteer program.
Calgary is a city that’s fortunate to have so many engaged young citizens, always looking for ways to give back. However, with many agencies and organizations requiring their solo volunteers to be over the age of 16, it can be quite a challenge for youths to find an organization that can accommodate their skills, talents and time.
Aside from age barriers, there are other hurdles for younger volunteers. With their tight schedules time can be pretty limited. Some may want to volunteer for a number of organizations just to see where their passion lies. Some may be shy and would rather volunteer with peers.
Enter Youth Central’s program, Youth Volunteer Corps (YVC). YVC provides youth ages 12-18 with flexibility of hours, the opportunity to engage with a variety of organizations and a group of peers (and Youth Central staff) with which to volunteer.
For Rebecca Yang, an avid YVC volunteer, volunteering through the Youth Volunteer Corps also helped her get more connected with her community.
“As part of the new generation, I feel like the youth really are empowered to get out there through organizations like YVC. It really gives us an initiative to get involved within our communities,” says Yang. “I’ve come to the realization that this place that we live in, the city of Calgary’s a really cool place to be in, it’s so vibrant and lively, and there are just so many events that some youth don’t realize we have in this city.”
Getting engaged with their community is exactly the point of the program says Hodon Abdi, manager of YVC.
Youth Central’s all about inspiring, engaging young people, and that’s exactly what the program does,” says Abdi. “It allows youth to be able to help out and give them the skills in team building surroundings to be able to make a difference in their backyard in their local community.”
Volunteers with YVC are involved to the point that they go through each proposed volunteer project to make sure that it is youth friendly. Is it close to public transit? Is there enough time to get there after school? Will it be meaningful? Once a volunteer project is approved they are posted on the youth volunteer database.
YVC volunteers peruse the database, decide which opportunity matches their interests and needs, then they sign up. Next, they are assigned to complete that volunteer project with a group of like-minded peers.
The success of volunteer engagement with this program can be found in the numbers. Over the past year 3,028 youth volunteers have taken part in the program, working with 147 non-profit organizations. YVC has completed 868 volunteer projects in the past year, and counted a whopping 38,000 volunteer hours.
It is the extraordinary level of engagement that Youth Central’s Youth Volunteer Corps inspires in the next-generation of Calgarians that makes their volunteer program exemplary and a most-deserving recipient of the Leader in Volunteer Engagement award.