By Taylor Ostmark
The Youthlinc Service Year is a unique experience for high school and college aged students to immerse themselves in the world of service. Youthlinc’s mission is to create lifetime humanitarians. Through the 9 month program, participants in the Service Year will engage in local service in their own communities, and international service abroad.
Since Youthlinc’s inception in 1999, over 2,800 Youthlinc Service Year students have contributed more than 225,000 hours of local service throughout Utah. Based on our findings, the best volunteer opportunities consist of: Hands-on service with people, a positive mentoring atmosphere, and a genuine need. Research shows that when volunteers make an emotional connection, a service ethic takes root within the individual and that is how young people start on the road to becoming lifetime humanitarians. We encourage volunteers to use our local service directory to find their local service sites to ensure that they have a volunteer atmosphere that is positive and encouraging, as well as creates a space where volunteers feel comfortable to ask questions. Students are asked to complete 50 hours of local service. 30 of which are at a main service site that demonstrated a genuine need. The other 20 can be completed miscellaneously.
Safety is a large concern for Youthlinc as our number one goal is to make sure all participants are safe. We take a number of measures to ensure this. Each team has a medical professional assigned to it (MD, DO, RN AEMT). We locate all hospitals and clinics near the site in the event of an emergency. Youthlinc purchases emergency medical insurance for all participants while they are abroad. Youthlinc partners with the University of Utah travel healthy clinic for teams to learn about how to travel and staying healthy while abroad. At this time, all participants will have a 1:1 consultation to look over any recommended immunizations or prescriptions. Each team has a minimum of 7 adults with a 1:3 ratio of mentors to humanitarians. All participants over the age of 18 must complete a background check. Humanitarians and mentors will be housed in separate rooms for the duration of the trip. Participants must always travel in a group of 5 and with one adult at all times. All team leaders have previous Youthlinc experience and go through consistent training. We partner with international NGO’s and rotary clubs to have a Youthlinc presence on the ground during the planning phase. This ensures that all accommodations, transportation, food, and water are safe for our teams. We are consistently evaluating our international sites to ensure their safety.
Each trip cost varies by team due to international vendors and flight costs. The trip cost includes all flights, accommodation, food, water, emergency health insurance, U of U Travel Healthy clinic consultation, and program fees. It does not include passport fees, immunizations, or souvenirs. Due to COVID-19 and the repercussions Youthlinc has put together two donation schedules to meet these needs. The traditional track breaks up the trip cost into monthly goals from December to April. You will be able to use Youthlinc’s fundraising software to keep track of these donations and goals. All donations that come to Youthlinc’s platform are tax deductible. The second option is the deferred track. This option would not have any payments due until spring 2021. This will be a balloon payment that will need to be made within 14 days of notice. This is to allow us to book flights and vendors. The deferred track will not be able to use the fundraising page as for both tracks, the first $500 that enters the Youthlinc fundraising platform goes towards the $500 non-refundable deposit. In the event of a 2021 postponement, all monies will move towards the 2022 Service Year unless a refund is requested.
For more information regarding the service year visit https://www.youthlinc.org/service-year/parents/.