Hello, Wenatchee! My name is Grant England. I am an Americorps VISTA with United Way and the new program coordinator for Youth United. VISTAs commit a year of their time to address poverty by building the capacity of their sponsoring organization, in my case by assisting with United Way’s Youth United program. Youth United focuses on involving students in grades 6-12 in volunteer work, to strengthen themselves and their communities. Middle school students sign up for our Youth Engaged in Service program, where they work toward completing 75 hours of volunteering to earn a Service Medal. High school students can earn a varsity letter in volunteering, similar to a letter earned for a sport or other activity, after 145 hours of community service. I supervise our Youth Leadership Council, made up of kids that want to go above and beyond the basic volunteer work. They run their own meetings, organize their own events and are the most driven and creative youth I have encountered.
Allow me to introduce myself beyond what you could find on my business card. I am originally from the farm country of Central California, both similar and very different from Wenatchee. I am an Eagle Scout and an alumnus of University of California Santa Cruz, where I studied domestic poverty policy. My passion for volunteer work and my education in the circumstances behind poverty drove me to join the Americorps VISTA program. After months of nerve-wracking interviews and tough decisions, I accepted a position with United Way of Chelan and Douglas Counties. I moved to Wenatchee at the beginning of February, with snow and bumper icicles replacing the mild winters of my home state.
I am in awe of the sense of community in this valley and the sheer number of caring individuals and nonprofits working to serve those in need. My main goals for my year here are to expand the awareness of Youth United and reach out to the disadvantaged youth in the community. Nearly every person who hears about Youth United throws their full support behind it, so I know local apathy will not be an issue. I assure you that I will give my all to this effort.