Heart work and hard work

Guest Column

Youth Volunteer Corps of Hampton Roads (YVCHR) is a youth development organization that activates young people in meaningful service to the community. Middle and high school students can sign up for volunteer opportunities throughout the year, all of which are supervised and facilitated by YVCHR team leaders. These service projects are designed to connect youth to a broader network of peers and professionals, provide hands-on experiences in a variety of settings, increase their understanding of community needs and help build empathy and perspective around social issues. YVCHR embraces a group-based approach, where teamwork, effective communication and problem-solving skills are emphasized. YVCHR tracks participants’ hours and maintains a record of service for each youth volunteer until high school graduation. 

By collaborating with nonprofit organizations, community agencies and schools from across Hampton Roads, YVCHR exposes youth to both the “heart work” and the “hard work” of volunteerism—crafting with residents in convalescent care, feeding meals to the hungry, playing bingo with veterans and bowling with Special Olympians, as well as building beds for children living in poverty, working in community gardens and providing maintenance and beautification efforts at local parks and trails. Throughout the pandemic, YVCHR even offered virtual projects (in addition to its modified in-person projects) so that youth could stay engaged despite restrictions related to COVID-19. It is YVCHR’s mission to help youth develop a lifetime commitment to service!

YVCHR hosts projects on evenings and weekends during the school year, all of which are free. Interested youth between the ages of 11 and 18 must complete the online waiver at www. yvchr.org/waiver. Once the waiver has been submitted, they can sign up for projects that are posted on the project calendar using the online form (www.yvchr.org/upcoming-projects). Summer of Service is the only fee-based program and runs from June through early August, with camp sessions offered on a weekly basis. Registration takes place each spring. 

Read this testimonial from Akilah Frye, a senior at Smithfield High School: 

I started volunteering with YVCHR in 2017 through the Summer of Service program. This was both my first experience with YVCHR and my first volunteering experience in general! I was amazed at how we all came together with one common goal. Over the week, we volunteered at different sites, which all provided different perspectives and situations. 

Throughout my time with this amazing organization, I’ve learned what it truly means to be a leader. I saw how much volunteering did for me and I wanted other students around me to have the same opportunities. In my sophomore year, I started a Youth Volunteer Corps club at my high school, opening up volunteering opportunities for other students and sharing my experiences as a volunteer. My passion for helping my community started with YVCHR and will drive me to continue helping my community in the future.

To stay connected, visit YVCHR’s website (www.yvchr.org) to sign up for the newsletter. And, follow the volunteer activities on Facebook (YVC Hampton Roads) and Instagram (YVCHR). 

About Sister David Ann Niski 13 Articles
Sister David Ann Niski is executive director of the Bernadine Franciscan Sisters Foundation. A strong advocate and supporter of the Virginia Peninsula not-for-profit agencies, she can be reached at 757-886-6025 or by e-mail at david_niski@bshsi.org.

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