By: Brayden Davies
People discover Youthlinc in many different ways, some hear stories and experiences from friends and family who have gone on a trip, some see a presentation at school, and others learn about Youthlinc through their own research. One thing they all have in common, is that they are drawn to Youthlinc because they have a desire to be more actively involved in bettering both their local and global community.
Youthlinc’s mission is to create lifetime humanitarians and Madi Sudweeks is someone who is certainly on that path. Madi first learned about Youthlinc through her friends. She already had some experience doing service on an international level, but had not done as much in her own community. Seeing an opportunity to get involved as well as the impact she could have closer to home, she began volunteering with the Youthlinc’s Real Life Program as a volunteer mentor. While volunteering with Real Life, she was able to work with students by helping them with homework, going on field trips, and just doing fun activities. During an interview with the University of Utah, Madi said, “I just fell in love with working with Youth, especially refugee and at-risk youth. So from there I got more and more involved in the Real Life Program specifically.” That coming summer Madi went on the international portion of her trip with Youthlinc, and where many students see this as the end of their volunteer experience, Madi did not stop.
Following her first year, Madi continued to be involved in a number of different positions. She has been an Assistant Team Leader, an Assistant Real Life Director, a Real Life Intern, as well as an Alum Leader on several trips! What makes a lifetime humanitarian isn’t their involvement in Youthlinc, but the additional work they do on their own. This is where Madi sets herself apart. Madi trains service dogs through an organization called Labs for Liberty, that provides support dogs for veterans. She recounts an experience from when she finished training her first service dog sharing this,
It was really hard for me to send Sarge [her first dog] away and to give him up to his veteran. Even though I knew that was what I had been training him for, for a year, and that’s what I signed up for. It was really hard until one time when I was talking to his veteran, and she was telling me how she was in a helicopter crash in combat in Afghanistan. Now she has an incredible fear of flying and lots of PTSD surrounding that event. Even flying to come get Sarge was a really traumatic experience for her and she could barely do it, even though she knew how important it was to come get him. She told us that just having Sarge in that that flight home would make her life a million times better. It would ease that trauma and that anxiety. I realized at that moment even if all that training that I did with Sarge just helped for that two-hour flight it would be worth it.
These are just a couple of examples of how Madi Sudweek exemplifies what it means to be a humanitarian.Proof of this is in her being selected as a Young Humanitarian Award Finalist in 2018, and Runner Up in 2019. Thank you Madi for being the humanitarian that we all strive to be, and for showing others that even the little things can make a big difference in someone else’s life.