The Youth Impact program, which provides after-school programs and mentorship to underserved youth and their families, is seeking more volunteers. The program continually strives to provide a safe and welcoming environment for the youth coming through its door.
Juan Martinez, the community outreach coordinator, joined the program in January and has since begun to implement changes that will further complete Youth Impact’s mission for kids and families. These changes include workforce development, a food pantry and youth mentorship programs that assist with school readiness and life skills development.
“More volunteers means more members to our village, and it takes a village to raise a child,” Martinez said.
Youth Impact was founded by Robb Hall at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd. What started as a small after-school program for underserved youth has grown over 30 years into a warehouse space with an expansion added about two years ago at a cost of around $1.2 million, all raised by donors.
Martinez described the situations for many of his youth participants.
“Ninety percent of youth in this program are from low-income families,” he said. “When we feed dinner at 5:30, that may be the only meal they have the rest of the night.”
The integral nature of work that volunteers and staff provide to the kids of the program is a structure and relationship they may not find anywhere else. Martinez said the positive impact of Youth Impact provides a safe place to be a kid.
Volunteers provide a plethora of support within the program. Students are encouraged to apply as it keeps with the mission to involve the community in the organization. Volunteers can expect to complete activities, help with homework and be a role model, mentor and friend for the participants.
“We see these kids four hours a day out of 24 hours,” Martinez said.
Youth Impact mentors have the responsibility of guiding their kids in the right direction, with school and otherwise, through example. He said Youth Impact prides itself on its involvement with its participants’ school performance and social development without volunteers.
Dani Bell, program manager and daughter of Robb Hall, describes the maturity she sees in kids that come through the doors at Youth Impact. She cites much of what participants have experienced as cause for their maturity, and Martinez and Bell both advocate the value of individual relationships youth build with staff and volunteers in the program.
For those interested in volunteering, www.youthimpactogden.org has a volunteer tab available.