Spotlight on: YVC of Hampton Roads

Hampton Roads Spotlight 6.4.2014

The temperatures are rising and YVC’s Summer of Service is in full swing! YVC programs across the U.S. and Canada are kicking off their summer programs this month. We can’t wait to see what kind of projects everyone is doing!

This month we are going to the east coast to YVC of Hampton Roads in Newport News, Virginia. YVC of Hampton Roads is the only independent YVC program in the YVC network, meaning that it is a stand-alone nonprofit organization without a host site.

Laurie Sepanski, Executive Director and Founder of YVC of Hampton Roads and new Program Director Rhonda Baxley are giving us an inside look and advice about their unique YVC!

Tuff Enuf Tire Flip 2Laurie Sepanski, Executive Director:

What kind of fundraisers does YVC of Hampton Roads do?

We have a variety of fundraisers that include the mailing campaigns, grants, and sponsorships, but our most exciting fundraiser is our annual Tuff Enuf Challenge. It’s a 5K obstacle course that’s held at the Noland Trail the weekend before Halloween. Our race is open to people of all fitness abilities who are age 11-99. It has both fun and challenging obstacles along with zombies and a carnival type of atmosphere. Runners wearing costumes are eligible to win raffle prizes. Last year was our first year hosting this event, it was a lot of work but the turnout and reviews were great. We’re looking forward to hosting it again this year!

Do you have any fundraising advice for other YVC programs?

Keep trying and keep talking about all of the benefits of Youth Volunteer Corps; you may never know who will be willing and able to help your YVC.

What is your favorite part of founding/running YVC of Hampton Roads?  

As the founder of YVCHR I love seeing how our organization has grown and I look forward to implementing the vision we have for our organization. I also enjoy hearing from previous Youth Volunteers and Team Leaders. I love knowing their time with YVCHR has made a difference in their lives and watching them as they work in service industries and form families of their own.

What advice do you have for other people considering becoming independent Affiliates?

I would highly recommend becoming an independent Affiliate and definitely think there are advantages to having a singular focus. I would like to suggest that anyone interested in forming a YVC, as an independent 501(c)3, take the time to have a solid business plan to include support from their local schools and business community, along with a strong board of directors.

Tuff Enuf Photo Booth 4Rhonda Baxley, Program Director:

What advice do you have for new Program Directors?

When I first started at YVCHR, I felt like there were so many things that I needed to learn.  You really have to learn by participating in the events and getting to know the agencies and the needs of the agency. Many times, agencies think that they do not want our volunteers; because they think we will be more trouble than benefit. I have found that if I can get our volunteers in the door for at least one event, then they always invite us back. I heard a lot of “no’s” but it pays to be persistent. It’s important to get out there and see what is going on in your community and see how your volunteers would fit into the community happenings. Read the paper and follow local happenings. If you see something that you think would be a good fit, then don’t be shy about calling the organization. It is really important to be organized as well. Know where you are going and what you are expected to do before the project starts.

Tell us about the kids who volunteer with YVC of Hampton Roads:

I really can’t say enough good things about our volunteers. When I overhear people complain about “kids today,” I always tell them that they should accompany me on one of our projects. These kids always show up on time with a desire to learn and be helpful. I have never heard them complain when a project does not go the way it was supposed to. They are always so kind to one another and to any new member. They can get a lot of work done in a relatively short amount of time as well.

Ready to tour some other YVC programs? Check out our previous Spotlights on Iron County, Plymouth, Calgary and Yellowstone County.

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