Article on Youth Leadership Council Experience
As a sophomore in high school, I was eagerly searching for a unique volunteer opportunity—one that would provide me with educational opportunities that would open doors in the future and provide me with meaningful activities to fulfill my spare time. After accepting an opportunity to volunteer in the administrative office of Angels Place, I quickly grew fond of the organization and its mission to serve people. The warm environment of the office setting I worked in enabled me to learn from as well as share my own thoughts with the very knowledgeable and caring staff. I even encountered David, a resident and familiar face from our past work experiences together at a local restaurant. I quickly knew that this organization would stay close to my heart.
The skills and opportunities that Angels Place has provided for me since my early teen years have continued to grow into my studies and foundation for a career in the nonprofit sector. From working side-by-side with the Angels Place staff, to meeting and talking with residents, to supporting the planning and execution of annual events, I have learned much more than the basics of inputting data and designing fliers that would come from an average job. Volunteering with Angels Place has taught me the importance of caring for the needs of others as much as I put forth my own.
After a year or so of volunteering my time to the administrative side of Angels Place, I was fortunate enough to receive a nomination as a board member for the newly founded Angels Place Youth Leadership Council. Although I had advocated for Angels Place to fellow classmates before having this position, being a part of the Youth Council opened the opportunity for me to serve as an official school ambassador for Angels Place and allowed me to expand upon my skills and knowledge to further advance the organization. As a member of the Youth Council, I was able to recruit and coordinate over one dozen volunteers from Clarenceville high school to participate in daylong spring cleanup projects at the Grimaldi (Livonia) and Dinan (Farmington Hills) residences. The other Youth Council members and I also contribute to the annual Talent Show and Family Fun Day planning. These events provided incredible opportunities to witness the joyous faces of Angels Place residents and families because of our efforts. These feelings and lessons that I gained from being a part of the Youth council have transpired into my current life of giving back.
Today, about three and a half years after leaving the Youth Council for university, I am a junior at Pace University in New York City. I study political science with minors in peace and justice studies and business management. Recently, I watched a TED Talk titled “The way we think about charity is dead wrong,” by Dan Pallott. This talk was very interesting to me because it pointed out the importance of individuals who serve others through nonprofit work. It highlighted the fact that nonprofit employees may not earn equal to corporate persons—even when they donate the equivalent of the nonprofit’s average salary—but the work that is accomplished by nonprofit organizations and its members is invaluable. This is especially true for those involved as employees, volunteers, board members, and all other contributors to Angels Place. My experiences at Angels Place have strengthened my passion for serving others and showing love and respect. These lessons from Angels Place have driven me to strive in the nonprofit sector by enrolling early in MPA (Masters of Public Administration) courses, hoping to make a significant impact similar to that of this dear organization.
My work with Angels Place, especially as a Youth Council member, has driven me to develop my education of developmental disabilities in an international context. My career interest is currently in the field of humanitarian aid after natural disasters or conflict. This has led me to research the rights and specialized care of persons with developmental disabilities in times that are most challenging for many individuals. I recently conducted an interview with a member of Handicap-International who mentioned something that I believe rings true to the Angels Place spirit. Edward Winter, Director of Institutional Funding for Handicap-International explained, “Disabilities itself is only an impairment of interaction with the environment. If people with disabilities live in an environment meant for persons with disabilities, they no longer have a disability.” I commend Angels Place for dignifying, encouraging, and recognizing its residents, in addition to doing so for its contributing members serving as the Youth Leadership Council. By enabling youth to serve as contributing members to the organization, Angels Place can, and does reach far more individuals than those in southeast Michigan. The work that Angels Place and its contributors do will reach across the world.