Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – Beyond Volunteering

Name: Zachary Atlee
From: Woodland, California
Grade: Senior
School: Woodland High School
Votes: 58

Before I began volunteering, I had no real perspective of the culture that
surrounded me. I was blind to the charm of my “boring” town where
“nothing ever seems to happen”. I decided to dabble in volunteer
work that involved local government because I was beginning to feel I
should reach out and find something to do within the community. I
chose to first volunteer last spring in a youth group at the Woodland
Public Library known as the Teen Advisory Board, or TAB. Shortly
after, I also joined an anti-tobacco group known as Youth United for
Action Showing Tobacco Ain’t Right, the less lengthy name being
YUFASTAR. The following fall, I was introduced with the opportunity
to apply for yet another group, the Woodland Youth Committee. I
hadn’t even been aware of the extreme time commitment that I was
putting in as a whole, all I knew was that I wasn’t going to be
home very often. In total I’ve spent about one-hundred hours this
past year with these groups. Some weeks I’ll only have a meeting
for one group, other weeks I might have a meeting for each as well as
an event or two, so the weekly/monthly time commitment varies from
two to ten hours a week and at least six to seven a month. As a
volunteer many of my responsibilities were both planning and
facilitating events. Our goals in TAB are largely based on the hope
to involve teens and youth and show the importance of recognizing the
value in their community. We succeeded greatly when we hosted an
event that attracted nearly three-hundred local teens to the
community for an evening of fun. Our goals in the Youth Committee are
similar; to spark volunteerism in local teens to strengthen and grow
our community. Here we’ve learned much about our hometown and for
me personally, I’ve become much more interested in community
affairs because of it. In YUFASTAR we aim to inform our peers of the
dangers of tobacco via events as well as meetings. Our responsibility
typically lies in spreading the word to our peers to help them make
informed decisions. My greatest satisfaction has come from learning.
Learning not just about how to take stand, but also learning about
what makes a community great. These accomplishments have led to be
forward looking because I know when I come back, amazing changes will
have been made, and I know this will be spark even more movement
forward thanks to the great dedication of the community. The main
change I seek to foster is community pride. I believe it takes more
than just having a community to be successful; people must also
believe in and be proud of said community. I strongly believe my work
will have made a difference because even in twenty years, I don’t
see TAB or the Youth Committee going away anytime soon and, with
time, I know they will help unite this community with its youth.

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