250 Baltimore Youth Participate in National Youth Service Day
By Darriel Hoy
Baltimore Adventist Community Services (ACS), the city’s lead agency for the 19th Annual National & Global Youth Service Day, mobilized more than 250 young people to volunteer for the event Friday, April 20, through Sunday, April 22, in Baltimore. More than 18 million youth in the United States and in 116 other countries planned community service projects and special events to celebrate the special event. Sponsored by Youth Service America and funded by State Farm Companies Foundation, National & Global Youth Service Day is the largest service event in the world.
The momentum in Baltimore started last year after a group of youth read newspaper articles about homeless teenagers. They started learning about homelessness as a local and global problem. Youth were startled by the statistics: two-thirds of the world’s homeless population is women and children, and the leading causes of homelessness are the shortage of affordable rental housing and a simultaneous increase in poverty. Baltimore youth wondered what they could do to help.
The national service day provided an opportunity for the Baltimore youth and young adults, ages 5-25, to take action. During the weekend, youth and young adults served meals at Bea Gaddy Family Center, Brown’s Memorial Shelter, the Ronald McDonald House, and Project Place. Volunteers helped children at the YWCA shelter and the local children’s home make arts and crafts projects for children in local hospitals. Youth shared a meal and a conversation about drug addiction with men in The Baltimore Station’s substance abuse recovery programs. Church youth made cookies for homebound HIV/AIDS patients connected with Moveable Feast and also encouraged their churches to do more to eliminate homelessness. The Baltimore ACS youth corps also plans to host a sleep-out against homelessness to raise funds for shelters in the fall.
“Youth are concerned about their community,” said Pastor Darriel Hoy, executive director of Baltimore ACS. “National & Global Youth Service Day is a launching pad to help youth think critically and creatively about solutions to community problems, and to put them on a lifelong path of service and civic engagement. Most adults don’t know that 73 percent of America's 60 million young people believe they can make a difference in their communities. Baltimore Adventist Community Services helps youth put their ideas, enthusiasm, and faith into action through a 150-member youth service corps. Youth not only earn community service credits for school, but they also earn certificates and learn about college scholarships for community service.”
Pastor Hoy added that research shows that youth who volunteer just one hour a week are 50 percent less likely to abuse drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, or engage in destructive behavior. Youth who volunteer are more likely to do well in school, graduate, vote, and be philanthropic. Teenagers report that volunteering teaches them to respect others, to be helpful and kind, to understand people who are different from them, to develop leadership skills, to become more patient, and to be better citizens.
Baltimore ACS plans to engage youth in service this summer through a VolunTEENS program and a Points of Light Youth Leadership Institute. For more information, to get your teenager involved, or to make a donation, please contact Baltimore ACS and/or Pastor Hoy at (410) 977-9547.
About N & GYSD 2007
National & Global Youth Service Day mobilizes youth to identify and address the needs of their communities through service-learning and community service. Research continues to support service-learning programs as an effective method for increasing student academic achievement.
More than 115 national partners and 51 lead agencies throughout the United States organize projects for the special event. Overseas, national lead agencies in 116 countries manage national events. Planning tool kits, service-learning curriculum guides, classroom posters, grants, and more are available for youth, parents, teachers, and organizations.
Youth Service America (YSA) is a national nonprofit resource center that partners with thousands of organizations committed to increasing the quality and quantity of volunteer opportunities for young people to serve locally, nationally, and globally. Founded in 1986, YSA’s mission is to expand the impact of the youth service movement with communities, schools, corporations, and governments. In addition to the national service day, YSA also hosts SERVEnet, providing the largest database of volunteer opportunities in America. For more information, visit www.YSA.org.