Our Stories 2015

Sabrina Yu

“Volunteering instills a sense of purpose and confidence in me, and that’s why I always try to take time out of my schedule to contribute back to my community.”

When it comes to leadership and volunteerism, Sabrina Yu shines. Sabrina was the president of her in-school YVC club, and worked tirelessly to create an enormous amount of volunteer opportunities for her members to benefit their school and local communities.

“I actually joined Youth Central as a grade eleven student. I was a founding member of my school’s YVC club and signed up right at the beginning of the year … The flexibility of the projects and wide range of opportunities available really appealed to me.”

Sabrina organized a number of major activities during her year as president. “The project I am most proud of was for the Children’s Birthday Miracles organization. Seeing my peers get so excited about volunteering at Inn from the Cold was an experience that I will never forget.”

Sabrina volunteered for a total of 312 hours during her two years at Youth Central. As a result of her hard work, the E.P. Scarlett YVC in-School club was able to contribute over 1309 volunteer hours.

“I’m currently studying at the University of Calgary in the Bachelor of Heath Sciences Program. My time spent volunteering with Youth Central and my school’s YVC club has been such a valuable experience. I’ve learned how to manage my time effectively to accomplish my academic and extracurricular goals, and communicate with individuals and groups in a wide variety of settings.”

Sabrina used her sincere dedication to volunteerism to both help her community and create opportunities for others to do the same. We’re confident Sabrina will do great things in her future, just as she did during her time in YVC In-Schools.

Reece Armstrong

The impact that winning a YODA award had on me was reconfirmation that what I was doing was worth my time. It showed me that my passion for helping the planet actually made a change and an impact. It also served as a tool to show me that others took notice.

A project I am especially proud of from the last year was the creation of a nonprofit organization titled “awaken the light” that a friend of mine started. I was elected as vice president and our projects began. We (a bunch of misfit kids) did weekly garbage cleanups, protests and are currently working on gardening organic vegetables for those in need. We conducted many bottle drives in order to fund all of these projects.

This fall, Michelle Kemball reached out to me about joining the TD Youth Earth Ambassador committee, and it has been a blast since! My desire to volunteer within the community stems from the need to contribute to make the world a better place. I believe that if we take baby steps towards a healthier, happier, and more accepting world, we creating change is manageable.

Outside from school and working full time, I enjoy indoor gardening, poetry (or hiphop depending on the crowd), sitting in nature feeling the momentary freedom, reading philosophy, and living life consciously. I believe we all ought to meditate once a day too.

I worry that too many people live their lives without waking up, without stopping to smell the flowers, or appreciating the simple blessings in life, like the colour of the sky, or the shapes of the clouds. I feel the stress of growing up and believe that we should aim to stay young in our hearts, while aging our minds. I hope to one day see world peace, as cliché as it is.

I plan to travel the world, working and learning as I go. Someday I might settle down to have a family and own a cafè & organic sub shop on the west coast, but not anytime soon. Right now I feel blessed to volunteer with Youth Central, and help create a better community.

Malika Daya

The Get Happy Project left a lasting impact on me; we created signs and walked around downtown giving people high fives and encouragement to carry forth with their day. I was amazed and grateful to see the loving response and reciprocation of positive energy.

I joined Youth Central because I wanted to be part of something greater, to join hands with other youth. I wanted to build upon the values of generosity and kindness that I grew up with. Youth Central connected me with like-minded individuals with a similar outlook on life.

My love for humanity drives my desire to volunteer in my community and give back to mankind. I am grateful for all I have been graced with and find it difficult to sit idle in a world full of pain and suffering. Whether serving lunch at the Salvation Army, cheerleading at the Underwear Affair, or walking for cervical cancer, putting a smile on someone’s face is equivalent to one hundred blessings in my heart.

New volunteers should be open-minded and self-aware. Don’t be too uptight, enjoy yourself, make some great connections, express yourself, and leave smiling. If you’re happy, it will radiate and touch those around you.

I aspire to get two degrees: one in international relations/global development and a second in theatre. My dream is to one day work with the United Nations, spending time in developing countries to better the overall quality of life for those who less privileged. I am also interested in law and the possibility of working as a human rights lawyer. Theatre is my passion. Brought up as an actor, I am infatuated with performing and learning about the human condition. Acting is more than reciting memorized lines, it is reaching out and leaving an impact with the audience.

Youth Central has played a pivotal role in allowing me to grow as and become an active citizen. I have gained the ability to critically think about the world around me and to relax and laugh at myself. Youth Central has honestly changed my outlook on life over the years… I’ve learned that nothing in life is absolute and being able to adapt to change is essential.

To all those I’ve met along the way through Youth Central,

Thank you for all the love and laughter, inside jokes and warm hugs, all the lessons taught and wisdom shared and most of all thank you for a part of my journey of growth.

Andrew Min

I’m proud of a couple of projects the Community Initiatives sub-committee (of YVC) took on over the past year. While I was initially unsure what to expect with the Speak Your Mind Project, I’m glad to have made an impact by raising awareness for mental health. Listening to stories of youth from all across our city taught me that there are far more issues in our world than the few we can relate to in our lives.

Working with the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS) to help refugee children connected with my passion for helping underprivileged people. Regardless of status, background, or ethnicity, everyone deserves equality in our prosperous country. I’m really proud of YVC making a small difference in our community.

I began volunteering with Youth Central in the summer of 2013. It is a great feeling when a person smiles or thanks you after you’ve helped them or their community. Good people in this world are always doing good things, and I want to be part of the process. Whatever social issue is out there, I’m not afraid to contribute and try my best to become an agent of social change.

When I first joined Youth Central, I didn’t know what to expect. There were so many outstanding volunteers committed to the organization, I doubted my ability to become like them. Volunteers come from a variety of schools with various experiences and qualifications. You shouldn’t doubt yourself because anyone can make a difference. Those who gain the most from Youth Central are those who come to projects and meetings with the right attitude. Dedicate yourself to the community and you’ll be surprised by the experiences that you have gained at the end.

I’m passionate about economics and social studies. Youth Central has allowed me to make connections between many of my passions and the variety of goals that I want to pursue in life. In volunteering with the community, I was able to gather a diversified experience of meeting new people, making connections with others around me, but more importantly, understanding the many societal issues that we are faced with. I hope that the occupation I end up with will put me in a position where I can dedicate my time and service to others.

I want to thank everyone: team leaders, committee members, Youth Central staff and volunteers. It has been a humbling experience working with individuals that share similar mindsets and passions.

Mariah Clayton

Mariah Clayton is a member of the Downtown Discovering Choices Youth Council, which is a partnership program between Youth Central’s Outreach Program and Discovering Choices Schools.

I joined Discovering Choices Youth Council because I want to make a difference in the community and my school and give my input as a youth to help try to bring us together as more of a community.

I really enjoyed volunteering for the Children’s Festival. I loved helping out the young children and seeing their smiling faces and knowing that we were there to help. I also enjoyed helping out with the Discovering Choices Open House; showing people the school and answering questions as I feel the school would be a great fit for many young people.

I enjoy volunteering in my community because I believe one person can make a difference and it starts with change. I want to show other youth that it’s a great opportunity to volunteer and to have a say in your community.

I have gained many skills from Youth Council and being a team player such as speaking in front of people, along with coordinating and helping with events. I have also learned to actively listen and be an all-around better person. I try to set examples and be a role model to others.

Nicole M’Carthy

I was introduced to Youth Central after receiving a Youth of Distinction Award for leadership in 2013. I was invited to apply for one of Youth Central’s steering committees, and ended up joining YODA as well as the Mayor’s Youth Council.

I am especially proud of the Youth of Distinction Awards ceremony that our committee put together in 2015. Similarly, the Mayor’s Youth Council was able to initiate multiple projects, which combatted mental health issues. I have been given the opportunity to take initiative, learn, and plan events. YODA and MYC provide opportunities for youth to take charge of a situation or event. I enjoy the experiences that these committees offer, and appreciate being able to see the direct impact on community members.

It is important to be involved in our communities because the strength of any community is found in the hearts of its citizens. This is also true for youth because engagement is such an important tool for improving the lives of those around us. Many different needs can be fulfilled through volunteering. Not only are you able to make a positive change, but you also grow as an individual and acquire invaluable skills.

My goal is to work as a family doctor with emphasis on the public health sector. Medicine is more than surgeries and prescriptions. In order to implement effective health policies, we must understand the social components within society. Through Youth Central, I understand the importance of persevering for a project, pushing through numerous obstacles in order to achieve a goal or destination. Soaking up all the opportunities within my environment has lead me to become more resourceful.

Looking forward, I am exceptionally proud of founding and launching Everything YYC in partnership with Youth Central, an interactive youth-focused database that incorporates all the resources and opportunities available to youth throughout the city.