Teen power: Youth volunteers earning their stripes at the Y
Many of the people responsible for the day-to-day operations at the Waynesboro YMCA got their start as young volunteers. The volunteer spirit is alive and well.
“It’s nice to give back to the community and help out the place where I went to childcare,” said Jenifer Leavell, a 10th-grader at Wilson Memorial High School, who pitches in regularly with the Y childcare program.
Logan O’Neill has been a fixture at the Y since her preschool days.
“I went to pre-K here, and I ran around all the time, because my mom was always here working. I’d go into the childcare room and play with the kids, and that was always fun,” said O’Neill, a ninth-grader at Waynesboro High School whose mother, Dawn, is the member services director at the Y. Now a high-schooler, it’s natural for Logan to lend a helping hand.
“My mom will tell me about events, and I’m like, Yeah, let’s go do that,” she said.
Another WHS freshman, Jeffrey Fife, has also grown up in the Y, with his father, Jeff, as the long-time executive director who himself got his start at the Y as a teen volunteer.
“I help with pre-K, help the kids get more active, help them have a little bit more fun,” said the younger Fife, adding that he enjoys helping out, because “it makes me feel better that I’m not just sitting at home doing nothing. Now I’m helping out the Y community.”
The elder Fife, thinking back on his own formative experiences as a young YMCA volunteer, said it is “humbling to see these kids come back and volunteer at the Y, some that have grown up here and come back to be part of the program, some that are new to the program, but want to do something for their community.”
“It’s really going to help these young people, these young leaders, as they grow older, because they’re already experiencing volunteerism, and it’s something they can continue as they get older,” Fife said. “It’s about building social responsibility. It’s about building character. And it’s an extra benefit to being involved with the Y. Not just serving the kids that are in the program, but teaching the spirit and impact of volunteerism.”