The Power of Community: Our Takeaways from the YVC Summit

Our participation in the YVC Summit reinforced our appreciation of the power of a strong community to make a positive difference in member’s lives and communities. – Ryan & Thomas Growney SG’24

Last month, we had the incredible opportunity to attend and present the Youth Volunteer Corps (YVC) Summit in Tulsa, Oklahoma, an annual event that brings together students, program directors, board members, and staff from YVC chapters around the world.

The Summit was a time to celebrate youth service including the amazing work each and every YVC member does, and also a time for learning, growth, and connection. We feel so fortunate to have been invited!

From our experiences at the Summit, it became clear that the foundation of YVC is its powerful collaborative network.

Above all else, it’s a community of like-minded, action-focused individuals committed to working together to make a positive impact in the world, and that is the reason they continue to thrive as an organization and growing global community.

For those who aren’t familiar, YVC is a global network of over 30 local chapters, each distinct in its personality, service focus, and energy, yet committed to a shared mission and principles: to engage youth in meaningful service activities for a lifetime. While networks alone can be valuable, what sets YVC apart is how they collaborate. From individual members within local chapters to YVC’s senior leadership, there is a nested effort to fortify the connections that bind the members, projects, chapters, and mission. The success of each chapter and its members is a shared success, and this spirit of powerful collaboration with a powerful network was on vivid display in Tulsa.

One of the highlights of the weekend was our group visit to the Greenwood Rising museum, located on the site of the Black Wall Street massacre and race riots which occurred a little over 100 years ago. The experience of touring the museum with other service-minded young people from across the country was moving and thought-provoking, stirring a range of emotions in us, from anger and shame to pride and hope. As the adult leaders gathered the students to reflect on the visit as a group, we were struck by the open, honest, and respectful way in which each person, some as young as 12 or 13, shared their thoughts and feelings. Each thought was echoed and reflected back with care and kindness. This was an incredible display of trust, thoughtfulness, self-awareness, and self-development, where even the most intense thoughts and feelings were given space and respect.

Best intentions are assumed among people who care for each other, which reaffirmed for us the power of a community with shared values and a common purpose.

But what complemented the reflection and sharing was the fun we had. There was a “high-five” contest and icebreakers, which fostered a sense of camaraderie among members many who had not met each other before. Similarly, the workshops, especially the Reading, PA YVC chapter’s STAR program presentation on advocacy and recognizing your role in the fight against racism. This presentation and others were powerful and engaging, demonstrating an impressive depth of knowledge, confidence, and ability. These events highlighted the important role YVC plays in uniting people who are compassionate and caring but also engaging collectively to understand social challenges and find sustainable solutions. This sense of community, collaboration, and shared purpose is exactly what we aim to develop at Service Academy. It’s the supportive, positive environment created by YVC’s leadership and commitment to its mission that truly fuels the meaningful, impactful work carried out by empowered individuals in the local chapters every day.  

We had recently featured David Battey from YVC on our Service Academy Podcast. Additionally, we had the pleasure of welcoming Betsy Calmer, who graciously contributed to the podcast and also served as a panelist for our CCW2023 presentation. These interactions underscore the YVC leadership’s deep shared commitment to youth engagement and highlight the value of our personal connections. At Service Academy, our mission is to empower young people by helping them discover their unique motivations and resources for making a positive difference in the world. We believe that a network of individuals who share similar values, coupled with a safe and supportive environment, is fundamental to success of any kind but especially addressing systemic inequalities. Our participation in the YVC Summit reinforced our appreciation of the power of a strong community to make a positive difference in member’s lives and communities.

We presented at the YVC Summit a workshop titled “Discover, Inspire, and Craft: Your Personal Impact Story” (blog post on that presentation coming shortly).  

The YVC Summit was a reminder of why we do the work we do, and it has inspired us to redouble our efforts to bring our local social impact community together more regularly. We will continue to emphasize the importance of a supportive network and purpose-driven action in all that we do.

We want to extend our heartfelt thanks to Tracy Hale, YVC’s CEO; Betsy Calmer, YVC’s marketing director; David Battey, YVC’s founder; and everyone we met at the Summit. Your passion, dedication, and commitment to service are truly inspiring.

Here’s to the power of community, the importance of a shared vision, and the incredible impact we can have when we work together.

– Ryan & Thomas Growney SG’24

Join Service Academy today!