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50 Years and Counting

YES celebrates 50 years of serving the community

Youth Educational Services celebrated 50 years of serving the community on Oct. 5. Current students and alumni from the past half-century were in attendance at the anniversary reception that was held on campus in the Goodwin Forum.

For the past 50 years, the student-run volunteer organization has sent student leaders out into the community to help make a difference in people’s lives. Through 16 unique services, students serve a wide variety of community members including children, teens, elderly, and even incarcerated youth.

The variation of clubs allows volunteers to work in a setting that they feel passionate about. They all meet for an hour a week to discuss and plan their volunteer projects. Each semester students get the opportunity to join and impact others in positive ways.

The reception was a time that brought up many memories of why the YES program is important to the members. Marlene Medina is one of the many alumni attending the event that got to reflect on just that.

“It was important to me because I really wanted to get to know the community,” Medina said. “When I volunteered it was really like building a family here.”

Many speakers including campus faculty, alumni, and the co-founder expressed their love for the program as they spoke among the crowd. The event also included program poster boards, a memory wall and a buffet. Following the reception on Friday evening was a volunteer event that took place the morning after on Oct. 6. Monthly volunteer opportunities similar to this event usually take place on Saturday mornings for several hours.

Study Buddies, formerly known as Tutorial, is the oldest group within the YES program. This program tutors children in grade school and middle school free at cost to those who would not be able to afford these services otherwise. Volunteers meet up with children after school at Trillium Charter School and Jefferson Community Center. As the first group in the YES program, Study Buddies has been very effective and continues to have a great impact on the youth of Humboldt County. Former mayor of Arcata Alex Stillman expressed why she thought this program was so important.

“It is a very important program tutoring the children in the schools,” Stillman said. “Get[ing] them up to class level is important.”

Another one of the 16 volunteer groups is Hand in Hand. Hand in Hand works with current and former foster families. They provide them with a positive, safe, and supportive environment as they work to help develop lasting relationships between both children and adults. The volunteers organize arts and crafts, sports, outside adventures and many other engaging activities for the children to participate in.

As students volunteer in the Youth Educational Services, it sets them up for success in their careers. The students tutoring can continue on to eventually becoming teachers. Students can also gain teaching experience through some of the other groups such as the Art Recreation Theater and Environmental Education.

As he reminisced about the days he volunteered with YES, former high school tutorial tutor Greg O’Leary mentioned the lasting effects Youth Educational Services has on it’s volunteers.

“It affects your future in ways you’ll never predict, but in ways that will be wondrous,” O’Leary said.

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