Name: Kaloyan Zlatilov
From: Sandy, UT
Grade: College Freshman
School: Salt Lake Community College
Forward Scholarship 2016
Volunteer is to be Human
Reverence. That is what I feel for the act of volunteering. I am a volunteer
with Sandy City Youth Court in Utah. My current position is that of
an Adult Advisor. The experiences and lives I’ve been able to
encounter and work with has been the greatest gift of my young life.
I feel an intense joy whenever I am able to volunteer and interact
with eclectic personalities and lives.
The organization in which I volunteer with acts as an alternative to
juvenile detention and we coordinate with the local Sandy City Police
Department. Youth Court is a platform for young individuals or
adolescents who have committed a crime. We provide them with another
option or alternative to juvenile detention, so that the crime does
not stay on the adolescent’s criminal record. The youth is judged
by a panel of his peers. The panel consists of some of the finest and
brightest high school students in the area. Our specific motives for
assembling a panel of teenagers to judge fellow teenagers is so the
youth can have a positive example of how staying away from the
negatives of the law can benefit your life.
The youth comes in for a hearing and the panel determines his disposition
requirements. The disposition requirements usually consist of classes
that our program offers to the individual, community service hours,
and special projects such as essays or presentations. These
disposition options are all determined by our panel and what they
deem as necessary to the specific youth coming through our program.
The youth is then assigned a mentor from our panel who works closely
with the juvenile and checks up on his/her progress weekly through a
meeting or telephone call.
In the initial hearing, the youth is given a return hearing. A date by
which he/she has to complete the requirements sanctioned to him/her.
The process becomes unadorned from there. The panel determines the
youth’s future based on the completion of the disposition
requirements. If they feel he/she has passed, then we award the
individual with a certificate of completion. If the panel thinks the
youth failed to meet the requirements, the program sends them back to
Now that I have summarized the operations of the program in which I
volunteer, I will begin speaking more about the quantitative factors
and personal experiences of my position. My volunteering hours are
every second and fourth Wednesday of each month for four hours. I
also attend the classes that our program offers and any community
service initiatives that we organize. I would say that for one year,
I put in about eighty or more volunteering hours. I also attend any
trainings that we schedule, such as conferences.
My responsibilities are prominent and functional. I coordinate closely
with our youth members and provide them with incisive information
relating to their mentees’ disposition requirements. I maintain a
close relationship with the parents of the youth individuals that
comes through our program and contact every week to answer any
questions they may have. I usually answer questions about disposition
requirements from our youth members or the parents of the youth that
is participating in our program. I play an eminent role in the
training modules that we organize. It is a lot of public speaking,
sometimes in front of strangers. Another reason why I love my
position as a volunteer. The experience I receive in oration is
are indispensable to every aspect of life. We as humans, will always
face challenges. The challenge that petrifies me the most is when a
parent of a youth is hostile and unsatisfied with our program because
they think that the bar is set too high. The challenge is daunting
and full of opportunity. It isn’t pleasant when you are the person
the parent complains to, but whenever that situation presents itself,
I am adamant in explaining to the parent that the only other
alternative is juvenile detention. If they want their child to have a
criminal record at a young age and they feel unsatisfied with our
requirements, then we encourage them to indulge the alternative.
Sometimes, I have to welcome conflict and stand firm on my rhetoric
and our program’s policies.
at the other end of the spectrum, there are specific parts of the
process that leave me enamored and individuals that endear themselves
to me. I genuinely enjoy working with parents because I know I play a
pivotal role in their child’s development as a human being. Our
program has the power to transform a child during their most
formative years. That’s quite an ability that we possess. I
remember working with a young boy that had an abusive father. One day
I stepped outside to speak with the boy alone. I asked him what he
was feeling and what was going on, and just listened to what he had
to say. The young boy broke down in front of me and used me as a
person to vent to.
we were done speaking, he told me something that I haven’t
forgotten since. “It’s nice to have someone listen for once.” I
was stupefied. Listening. What a marginalized theory. We take it for
granted, and don’t realize that the human unity and camaraderie it
instills in us. It’s better to have someone than to be alone.
ultimate lesson from my volunteer position; appreciate what you have
and don’t become complacent, help others have what you have. I
think that my volunteer efforts alone cannot induce a change in the
world. There needs to be more participation in communities and in
volunteerism. I guarantee that the world would become unified through
the act of volunteering. The people I’ve had the opportunity to
meet through volunteering have transcended into the closest
relationships of my life.
or Thirty years from now, I know my activities and efforts would have
made a difference. They have made a difference on countless
individuals already. The lives I’ve been able to genuinely help has
changed them forever. Transforming from an unambitious child whose
actions were questionable at the very best, to a grown man with goals
and motivations is what I believe constitutes a difference. Yes, I
believe it is all worth it.