Youth Volunteer Makes Service Meaningful

Josh Graf - Love Inc

Josh (second from left) with his team serving at Love Inc.

When Josh’s mom brought home a brochure about Youth Volunteer Corps of Racine, WI, he didn’t know if he was interested.

“Honestly, at first I wasn’t sure if volunteering was the thing for me, but it kind of sounded interesting,” Josh says. “I thought I’d give it a try and see if I liked it, and I found out I love volunteering. What I was doing was really making a difference in the people’s lives around me.”

He and his sister chose to volunteer with YVC of Racine that summer at Love Incorporated, a local social services organization, and he found a new passion helping others. Josh had volunteered some before at a few community events and was a member of his Key Club.

“Volunteering with YVC was so much more meaningful than what I did before,” he says. “I wasn’t seeing who I was helping in other volunteer opportunities, but with YVC I did.”

Making Service Matter

Once he saw the impact he could have as a volunteer while serving with YVC of Racine, he quickly got more involved and even looked for ways to get other youth involved. After a great first summer with YVC of Racine, he returned to his Key Club that fall excited to keep that spirit of service alive at his school.

Josh Graf - Racine 2_croppedHis favorite aspect of volunteering with YVC is that projects are always team-based, meaning he gets to know the other youth he is serving with and connects with his Team Leaders. He wanted to bring this team-based component back to his Key Club to make sure those projects were always meaningful and fun too.

“I wanted to bring the aspects that YVC showed me volunteering is all about to my Key Club,” Josh says. “I have tried to make our Key Club events team-based to bring more sense of community to the organization like we have with YVC.”

Recruiting More Volunteers

Josh has served as Key Club President for the last year, so he has connected with many organizations for students to help out with and ensured that volunteers got connected to events. He set up a system for students to sign up for events and log their hours online. He recruited a total of 332 volunteers for Key Club with the help of his fellow officers.

He also consistently advertises for YVC projects to his Key Club so that students can get involved in volunteering beyond the Key Club, providing a steady stream of new volunteers to YVC of Racine.

As he prepares to graduate and trains the Key Club’s new group of officers, he’s ensured that they will continue the partnerships he’s established, especially with YVC of Racine.

Volunteering Beyond High School

Josh Graf - RacineJosh plans to continue his passion for volunteering in college and beyond, starting by serving as a Team Leader with YVC of Racine this summer. He was able to write about his volunteer experiences for college applications and scholarship essays, which he thinks helped make him a better candidate. He wasn’t denied to any colleges he applied to—even a couple reach schools—so he thinks it worked!

He also plans to keep spreading the word and encouraging others to volunteer. His advice to other youth: “Volunteer with a friend. I know I was very nervous to go volunteer by myself, but I did it.” He actually ended up knowing someone else at that first project, which helped him feel more comfortable.

“Once you break that barrier and see what it can be, it’s so much easier the second time,” Josh says. “It shouldn’t be scary, and if you can do that with a friend, you’ll feel that much more comfortable going again.”

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