While helping organizations and nonprofits in Joplin this summer, area teens will learn to put the needs of others before their own through a service program called Youth Volunteer Corps.
Over the next few weeks, volunteers ages 11-18 will serve the community in various projects at Souls Harbor, Habitat for Humanity, Joplin Emancipation Park Days, and Crosslines Ministries.
The volunteers work six hours a day, four days a week, the last day being July 26. Youth Volunteer Corps is a nonprofit organization that aims to encourage young people to give back to those in need through service-learning opportunities.
Originally based in Kansas City, the Youth Volunteer Corps has expanded programs across the country and is being offered to youth in Joplin for the first time this summer. The overall goal is to establish the program in the Joplin area each summer.
At the port of souls
Volunteers are stationed in Souls Harbor on Main Street this week to help the shelter with chores and chores. Benjamin Barnett, 17, of Joplin, is one of 11 volunteers who joined the program and helped organize blankets, clothes and other items in the shelter’s free store on Tuesday.
“I’m always looking for volunteer opportunities,” Barnett said. ” I love helping others. The heart of a servant is one of the greatest leadership traits a person can have. If you help others, people are always looking for someone to not only uplift themselves, but uplift others, and volunteering is a great way to do that.
Boys and Girls Clubs are affiliated with the Youth Volunteer Corps. A few young people from the Southwest Missouri Boys & Girls Club participate in the program. Faith Cook, 19, from Webb City, who is the Joplin Club’s teen coordinator, said the organization likes to involve young people as much as possible, especially during the summer.
The club brought seven of its members, aged 13 to 15, to volunteer at the shelter.
“Whenever we have the opportunity to volunteer and help organizations like this, we love doing it,” Cook said.
Jadaci Hyche, 13, from the local Boys & Girls Club, said the experience had been positive. Over the past two days, Hyche has participated in the program, which has opened new doors for her, such as meeting people her own age who are passionate about helping others.
“People walking by and seeing us help, it gives them a really big smile and it’s really nice,” Hyche said. “Some of the people who volunteer at YVC, I didn’t know them, so I got to know them. I got to know the people at the shelter. It was really good.
Dianna Gurley, director of Souls Harbor, said the young helpers did things the shelter had never been able to do before due to understaffing.
“It means a lot because right now volunteers aren’t in abundance,” Gurley said. “All of us, from director to director, find ourselves doing a lot of work. We really appreciate these children who come to us and say, “We’re going to give you a hand. Let us help you with the things you need to do but just can’t.
Laura Noonan, director of the Youth Volunteer Corps of Joplin, said the program aims to bring young people into the community and get them more involved. For Souls Harbor, this week’s volunteers mopped floors, picked up trash, and participated in a service-learning session that showed why their volunteerism was needed for this particular project.
“I think they learn the importance of volunteering, that it can be fun and that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re alone and you do a good deed and you’re done, but it’s something that is going to impact your life and your perspective on how you can impact your community,” Noonan said.
Upcoming for volunteers: Crosslines Ministries Joplin, June 19-22; Habitat for Humanity, July 16-19; and the Joplin Emancipation Park Days Committee, July 23-26. Participation in the Youth Volunteer Corps is always open with a recommended program fee of $49 per project, which can be assessed on a sliding scale; scholarships are also available.