Thursday, December 10, 2009

Youth Advisoy Council by Meghan Huebner

As the director of residential services, I am fortunate to work with teens in a number of different settings. One of the more unique ways is through our youth advisory council, who serve as volunteers to advise Alternative House on shelter policies, perform outreach to their peers, and participate in fundraising. The group of 7-12 teens meets monthly throughout the school year and has participated in various projects, such as gift-wrapping, creating and presenting information to teens on issues of depression, and distributing packets of information to guidance counselors and other individuals who come into contact with teens on a regular basis. They have also selected inspirational quotes that were painted on the walls of our shelter and organized a fundraiser through Ledo’s Pizza.

One current Youth Council member reflected on her experience:

“Despite America’s prosperity, many of the youth in our own country lack essential daily needs. With the recent economic downturn, this has only gotten worse. After seeing a homeless family in D.C. with small children, I decided that I had to do something to help, no matter how small. I joined the Youth Advisory Council at Alternative House, a home for teens who basically need shelter whether it be for the night or the week. I really enjoy laid-back environment at Alternative House and the rewarding meetings that I look forward to each month. Though advertising and suggesting improvements does not seem like much, each little step counts.”

By creating an environment where teens can help their peers and volunteer their time, the Alternative House has created an arrangement where residents, staff, and the teen volunteers can all benefit.

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