350 youth put a face on Summer Youth Initiative’s Volunteer Service Day

Today, 350 Flint-Genesee County teens will volunteer for 55 local organizations in recognition of the annual Summer Youth Initiative Volunteer Service Day; a day aimed at bringing together teens to give back to the community.  From 9:00 a.m. to 12 noon, the focus shifts from work, school and friends to helping others.

Managed by the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce, Summer Youth Initiative (SYI) helps more than 450 well-prepared teens find employment each year by providing funding to area non-profits and for-profit businesses to hire students. Teens who are hired by SYI employers participate in one day of volunteer service as a condition of their employment.

Tim Herman, CEO of the Regional Chamber believes that a community that embraces the cultural value of people reaching out and helping each other is a community that will prosper and grow.

“The SYI Volunteer Service Day is about employers and the community coming together with our youth to recognize the importance of volunteerism,” said Herman. “With the eager help of 350 teens, the participating organizations benefit from volunteers’ time, energy and skills. Our youth can benefit in a number of ways including discovering a new skill or talent that they didn’t know they had, meeting new people and feeling a sense of accomplishment. Volunteerism is a win for all involved. I’m very proud of the role that the Regional Chamber plays through the management of this program.”

To participate in SYI, teens must graduate from TeenQuest, a five-week afterschool training program where youth ages 14-18 learn skills that will help them be successful at school, home and work. Once teens have graduated from TeenQuest, they are eligible to participate in job interviews and compete for jobs during the annual Summer Youth Initiative (SYI) Job Fair.

Examples of the volunteer activities include day camp support, gardening and landscaping, outdoor and indoor cleanup, organization projects, creative projects, and general office work.

According to Rhetta Hunyady, Group Vice President of Operations and Employer Education and Training, volunteerism is an essential component of youth educational and training programs.

“These teenagers have demonstrated their capability and gained summer employment with area organizations. And that’s something they can be proud of. We also think it’s important that they understand and experience giving back to their community,” said Hunyady. “When people think about teens, it’s generally a time when it’s ‘all about me’, but on Volunteer Service Day, it’s all about someone or something else.  Our students get that, and typically end up appreciating the experience.”

Organizations that will benefit from the teen volunteers range from Flint Children’s Museum to Boys & Girls Club of Greater Flint to Mott Community College to Urban Farming to the North End Soup Kitchen to Flint Community Schools and the YWCA of Greater Flint. Also, there are several organizations that were new this year: VG’s Grocery, Flint River Water Shed Coalition, PAWs Animal Rescue and Riverdale Baptist.

At noon, recognition of SYI Volunteer Service Day will wrap up at Kearsley Park in Flint, where the teen volunteers along with their supervisors and TeenQuest/SYI management and staff will participate in a celebratory luncheon.

About the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce

The Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce (www.flintandgenesee.org) is the voice of business and community advocacy in Genesee County. The Regional Chamber is over 100 years old, was established before the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and is a founding member of the United States Chamber of Commerce.

Two words describe the Regional Chamber as it enters its second century of service: collaboration and partnership. It is our goal to work with government, business, education and nonprofit organizations to support the growth and development of the community economically, culturally and socially.