I first became involved with Youthlinc when my daughter joined the Thailand July team in 2014. Although initially hesitant to have my daughter travel internationally without me, I agreed to go to general orientation and hear what Youthinc was all about. I listened to other parents talk about the life changing experience their children had and decided it was worth a shot. Honestly, it was the local service component that changed things for me. I didn’t want my daughter to feel like she had to travel to a foreign country to feel like she was doing something good in the world. The mission of Youthlinc aligned with my own personal belief system that a lifetime of service is created one moment, one meaningful act of service at a time. Throughout that first year, I saw my daughter open her eyes to the many ways she could become involved in her community. I saw her realize the immense need that is all around her and I saw her learn about organizations that were helping to fill these needs. Her main service site became a way that we could connect through service. She would come home and talk with me about the struggles she was having with some of the students in her class. As a classroom teacher myself at the time, I shared with her ways I had engaged struggling students. When she found a measure of success using classroom management skills we talked about, she excitedly came home to share these successes.
The growth and change I saw in her happened long before she ever set foot in Thailand that summer. Through her experience, I witnessed her transform from a teenager concerned about what others thought of her to a young woman who became invested in the lives of those she served.
She had such a powerful experience throughout the service year that the next year, she applied to be an ATL and was placed on the Madagascar team. Again, I watched another level of transformation where she could take her love of service and help the students on her team to find a similar passion and ways to serve in their local communities. The leadership skills she gained as an ATL have continued to help her throughout many avenues of her life. I love that Youthlinc is much more than just a service organization. The leadership skills that every participant can learn are life long skills that are applicable in every aspect of their lives.
A few years later, I was on a weekend getaway with some girlfriends and the question was asked “What would you do if fear didn’t hold you back?” Without hesitation, my immediate answer was “I would find a new job.” I wasn’t actively looking for a new position, but I was having a growing sense that something was missing in my career. Within an hour of this conversation, I received an email in my inbox with the subject line “Youthlinc Position Opening: Local Service Director”. I took this as a sign from the universe, applied for the position, and the rest is history!
Since that time, three out of my four children have traveled to 6 different countries on Youthlinc Service Year trips and each one holds a special place in our hearts. I’ve mentored almost 50 ATLs, overseen four years of the Young Humanitarian Award and have worked with hundreds of community partners to foster relationships that invite young people to give back to the community.
My initial love for Youthlinc and its mission came through experiencing the Service Year via my daughter. My dedication to Youthlinc and its mission deepens each year when I continue to see the remarkable change in Utah students as they volunteer locally and internationally. Seeing humanitarians experience the joy of service and realize the impact that they make on those around them is incredibly powerful. It’s strengthened when I work with ATLs who give their all to their team to help each participant reach their potential. It grows each time I read a Young Humanitarian Award application and hear incredible ways our young people are working to make a difference in the world. My excitement increases when our staff digs deep to find innovative ways to achieve our mission and expand our reach.
Local service is truly where the magic happens and I am honored to be a part of the Youthlinc family creating lifetime humanitarians.