“I felt like I was making a difference.”
Keleey Naughton was awarded first place and a $200 prize for her submission to the 2017 Alumni Story Contest. Naughton served as an AmeriCorps member with YVC of Corvallis from 2014 to 2015.
Read her story submission and see how YVC changed her life below.
I remember so clearly the day that I accepted the position as an AmeriCorps member with YVC Corvallis. I was going to be moving from Chicago to Corvallis, OR, I had just graduated college, and I had no idea what to expect of the year ahead. I was scared and nervous, but, somehow I knew that the year ahead would be well worth it. So, that August I packed up my car and drove across the country to begin my AmeriCorps term with YVC. I knew it was going to be a fun and challenging year, but I had no idea what an impact the YVC program and the youth volunteers themselves would have on my life.
Service has always been a big part of my life. In high school, I was a member of my church’s youth group and regularly completed service projects around town. In college, I volunteered on campus and at the nursing home nearby. Although I enjoyed service, I never had the opportunity to be part of a service-minded group until I found YVC. I remember being at the YVC Summit in Kansas City, and looking around the room and seeing and feeling all the passion and energy of those in the room. I felt like I had finally found my niche, and that’s how I continued to feel throughout my year serving with YVC. I loved going to the schools and talking to classes about YVC and encouraging the students to come out and give it a try, because for the first time in my life I felt passionate about the work I was doing. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was making a difference.
Over the course of my twelve-month term I met an incredible group of youth volunteers who will inevitably change the world one day. I learned and grew so much that year, thanks to our amazing youth volunteers. I learned how to knit at our MLK Day knitting party that our YAB organized in which we donated all our knitting projects to the local youth shelter. I gained event management skills alongside our YAB when we planned our 20th Anniversary Fun Run/Celebration. I cried tears of joy with our youth as animals that we worked with weekly at the local animal shelter found their forever homes. I laughed harder than I’ve ever laughed while playing games and doing icebreakers in the mornings during our summer program. I sweated more than I’ve ever sweat as I worked alongside our dedicated youth in 100-degree weather shoveling up manure at a farm sanctuary we volunteered at. I learned the value of hard work and service with these youth. I feel so incredibly grateful for my time spent serving my AmeriCorps term with YVC of Corvallis.
After I completed my AmeriCorps term, I went on to work for a year at the local youth shelter, one of the non-profits in town that our YVC program supported. One of the big things I brought to the youth shelter is volunteerism. A lot of these youth had never had the opportunity to volunteer in their life and I organized volunteer projects for them. I showed them the value and joy of service, and watched them grow as a result of that service. I have since moved on to a new career path, but continue to stay involved in my community through multiple volunteer opportunities. I’m not quite sure where my life or career will take me in the future, but I know that I will always make volunteering a priority in my life. Thank you, YVC and all the YVC volunteers, for all that you do.
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