If you have ever volunteered with Project Helping, you know that we have AMAZING Kynd Leaders at each of our wellness experiences. These volunteer leaders are the cheerful folks in the bright green Project Helping shirts. They help sign in volunteers, make sure everyone has something to do, and speak about Project Helping’s mission.
What you may not realize is that some of our Kynd Leaders are young men and women that are a part of our Youth Advisory Council (YAC). YAC is a service-learning and leadership development group comprised of outstanding high school students. YAC provides a unique opportunity for students who want to get involved with a community non-profit focused on mental wellness. These students contribute to and inform our Kyndfulness for Kids program while acting as ambassadors and leaders in the community. Each of the members leads one event per month with a unique experience. Five of our members were willing to share what it was like for them to lead for the first time. They shared their struggles and kept it real.
I led my first event on Saturday, September 15th at Jovial Concepts. It is an organic community garden for low-income families. Overall, it was a simple task to be a leader because it wasn’t much different from being just a volunteer. Mostly just checking people in, making sure everybody has something to do, and talking a bit about what we do. I found that making conversation with all the volunteers was the hardest part. Personally, I feel so awkward asking questions and I think I answered them in an awkward way. Other than that, I did fine because the rest of the time was like any other time I’ve volunteered.
I lead my first event on September 23rd for Denver Parks and Recreation. It was with my mom, who is also a Kynd Leader! I was awkward talking to people and felt as if I didn’t ask as many questions as I should have about the person I was working with. There is definitely room for improvement on the communication skills. Other than that, it was pretty fun getting out there and picking up trash from public places that many families use every day.
I lead my first event at Treasure House of Hope. This is a group that bakes bread in order to keep the organization open and able to help people in need. It went well; everyone was very nice and respectful and we got along really great. I’m a very shy person but, surprisingly, I talked to almost everyone and that made everything go smooth. It made me feel happy! Leaving that day made me feel really great knowing that I helped with something that could change someone’s life. I am really proud of everyone there and myself too.
My first event was at Dress for Success on December 8th. Dress for Success is an organization that allows people, mostly women, to have interview appropriate clothes in order to help them get back on their feet. I didn’t know what to expect but as soon as I got in, I was greeted by friendly people who helped me get started. The other Kynd leader was named Chloe and she had an answer to every question I or anyone else asked. There weren’t many people, so Chloe and I helped organize clothes into style and size. We organized for about an hour and a half, but it didn’t feel that long because of how nice everyone was.
My first Project Helping event as a leader was educational and fun. I helped lead an event where we made and served breakfast to Urban Peak, a homeless shelter for youth. First, I showed up early and met with Tricia before the event. She checked in with me and helped ease me into the process. I was co-leading with an amazing, long time Project Helping leader named Bridget, who was very helpful in walking me through the things that needed to happen. Since there were only a few volunteers, Bridget had me working more as a volunteer than as a leader. This was helpful because I got to observe what leading looks like and try things out without the pressure of being the only leader. At the end, Bridget gave me some advice and told me more about what usually happens at this event. I learned a lot about leading and about Urban Peak.
Amazing, right!? We are so grateful for their time and honesty! Stay tuned for a follow-up from these students to see how their perceptions have changed over time. Spoiler: they have all become so comfortable as leaders and are doing so SO well. We could not be more proud of our Youth Advisory Council!
Interested in learning more about the YAC or a becoming one of our Kynd Leaders?
We would love to hear from you! Contact Tricia Denniger, Director of Kyndfulness for Kids, at [email protected]