Q&A with Board Member Eric Stiner

Eric Stiner

We’re excited to welcome our newest board member, Eric Stiner! Eric is a former Team Leader and AmeriCorps member with YVC of Greater Kansas City (he served in 2010-2011). He worked several years in the runaway and homeless youth field, and he now works as an operations manager for Vertical Response.

Eric took the time to answer a few questions for us:

How did you get started with YVC?

At the time, I was looking for two things—number one, I wanted to work for a nonprofit and number two, I wanted to invest my time in youth. I came across the position of Team Leader and it sounded absolutely perfect. It was also going to be my first full-time job, so I wanted to choose a place that would give me a positive outlook on the “real world.” It was a great experience and the more time that passes, the more I’m aware of how much I learned at YVC.

Eric leading a teambuilding game at a summer project at Shoal Creek Living History Museum while serving as Team Leader in 2011.

What was your favorite YVC project?

My favorite project was working at the Kansas City Community Kitchen. I took a group of Youth Volunteers there almost every week and loved it every time. I enjoyed the projects where I got to work with the same people over a period of time. It was so much fun getting to know them.  I also felt like the Community Kitchen was a great combination of learning and fun.

Why do you like to volunteer?

I truly believe that volunteering does more for the person volunteering than the people that are actually being helped. And I don’t say that to downplay the incredible accomplishments completed by volunteers; I just believe it’s that vital to the development of the person volunteering. When I was working in the homeless youth field, I learned that most people (including me) cannot simply just stop doing harmful stuff; we have to displace it with something else. To me, when you volunteer, you have to give something up of yourself for the benefit of somebody else. The awesome part is that the more you do it, the more it just becomes who you are.

Shoal Creek - Week 2, 2011 (46)

What’s your favorite story from a YVC project?

I’m going to cheat—I have two. The most fun I had as a Team Leader was playing the most epic match of capture the flag ever at Parkville Nature Sanctuary. We had a couple acres around the property, along with several old buildings, and every inch was used to play the game. The Youth Volunteers worked so hard that week, and getting to play around all the work they did was especially gratifying. The second project was at HopeFaith Ministries (pictured below are youth sorting a mountain of donations on Eric’s project at HopeFaith). It was the biggest change I saw youth go through while I was a Team Leader. I remember the conversations at the end of the week no longer involved surface-level observations or generalizations about homelessness, but the youth genuinely seemed to understand the deeper WHY of homelessness. That conversation still sticks so vividly in my mind.

Hope Faith Ministries--Week 3, 2011 (2)

What excites you most about serving on the YVC board?

Mostly just being around YVC more. You have no idea how excited I am to see some of the youth that were 12-13 years old when I was there and now are deciding where they want to go to college. Seeing youth develop and grow are some of my favorite experiences. It’s also very exciting to know that I can utilize all the skills, whether it’s with technology or youth development,  I’ve gained over the last 4 years to help advance the YVC mission. I’m incredibly humbled to even have been considered a board member, much less get the chance to learn and work with them.

Thanks, Eric, for your commitment to YVC and eagerness to serve as a board member! Welcome to the team!