Spotlight on: YVC of Western Connecticut
Congratulations to YVC of Western Connecticut as they just celebrated their fifth year of affiliation! Over the last half a decade, 487 Youth Volunteers have served 76 agencies with 561 projects – a grand total of 12,667 hours of service. Although their numbers were already quite remarkable, YVC of Western Connecticut, located in Danbury, did something unique last summer to spread their impact to a new community.
YVC of Western Connecticut was not only able to increase the number of Summer of Service projects in the Greater Danbury Area, but they expanded their efforts to launch the summer programming 45 minutes away in Stamford, Connecticut. The expansion was made possible by securing three AmeriCorps members to lead the projects in both communities.
“I love how unique our program is, we get to do such a wide variety of projects with many different people. I am so blessed to be able to assist many youth in serving their community and helping them feel like they are having an impact,” says Morgan, an AmeriCorps member and YVC Team Leader
Stefanie Docimo, Stamford Program Director, and Casey Levene, Director of Volunteer Service of the United Way of Western Connecticut, spoke with us about how they made it happen:
How long have you, the Program Directors, been involved with YVC?
“I have been involved in youth programming for about two years with the goal of bringing Summer of Service to Stamford for 2014. The overall planning and execution of this programming was my responsibility.”– Stefanie
“Although my work at the United Way for the last eight years has been volunteer management, the YVC program became my responsibility specifically about a year ago.” – Casey
So… there were two Summer of Service programs in Western Connecticut. How was this challenging?
“The challenge of having two programs was the distance between the two sites. The AmeriCorps members were based in our Danbury office. This required scheduling them to be in Stamford for specific planning days and site visits. Commuting down 45 minutes for the actual weeks of service proved a challenge because commuting in Fairfield County is a challenge on a daily basis.” – Casey
Both Summer of Service programs were Tuesday through Thursday –– registration included two t-shirts and scholarships were available upon request. During the three-week program in Stamford, Youth Volunteers cleaned fish tanks and supported marine life projects at Long Island Sound, helped with trail maintenance, playground clean-up and more at the Stamford Museum & Nature Center and also took part in activities supporting city departments at the Government Center.
For the six-week program in Danbury, there were countless programming options. Youth Volunteers…
…learned about the homeless population in Danbury by serving breakfast and lunch, cleaning outside shelter areas and organizing a food pantry with Dorothy Day Hospitality House, Interfaith AIDS, Morning Glory Breakfast Program and City Shelter.
…built park benches and a sandbox and helped with field day and story time at Jericho Partnership.
…worked on gardening projects and helped teachers by working with children as they read, played games, completed puzzles and more at the Early Action Learning Center.
…pressure-washed stalls and learned about rescued horse care at the Akindale Thoroughbred Farm.
…repaired and reset historic gravestones at Wooster Cemetery while learning about history at Friends of Danbury Cemeteries.
“My favorite part of YVC is getting to see the gratitude on the faces of the people we help,” says Alyssa, a YVC of Western Connecticut Youth Volunteer.
As of now, Stamford does not host projects year-round, but they anticipate a 2015 Summer of Service and hope to expand their duration of programming soon.
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