Denise Yusuff, Volunteer Awardee, Centinela Youth Services
What do you do at Centinela Youth Services?
I am a volunteer mediator. I volunteer for the victim offender restitution program and the families able to resolve situations program.
When and why did you first get involved with Centinela Youth Services?
I became involved with Centinela Youth Services in 2014. I wanted to volunteer for an organization that improved the chances for our youth, enriched their lives and gave our youth an opportunity to overcome obstacles. I am very invested in making sure that our youth have the best opportunity to move beyond their current situation and have an enriched future.
What motivates you to stay involved at Centinela Youth Services?
I love seeing youth become empowered to take ownership of their actions and handle conflict in a positive manner. These are invaluable life skills that will put them on a path to success.
What is your favorite memory of volunteering with Centinela Youth Services?
My favorite memory was a tender moment between a family. The youth took complete ownership of her actions and acknowledged her parents’ actions were out of love and concern. The session was a complete breakthrough and very productive.
What has surprised you most about working with Centinela Youth Services? What do you wish other people knew about Centinela Youth Services?
The skills you learn to help others are life skills you can put to use in your daily life. Everyone is great to learn from. You just feel good being there. It's a win-win for everyone involved and the community at large.
What would you tell someone who is interested in volunteering with Centinela Youth Services?
Sign up! You won't regret it! The benefits to the community and for yourself are tremendous.
For more information about volunteering with Centinela Youth Services, please visit www.cys-la.org/mediators-con8
Tonie Neuwirth, Volunteer Awardee, Lake Avenue Community Foundation
What do you do at Lake Avenue Community Foundation (LACF)?
My title at LACF is Data Coordinator, where I process donations, prepare acknowledgements, select and correct mailing lists, and identify data for various reports about donations and donors (like who were the new donors for a recent summer campaign).
When and why did you first get involved with LACF?
In 2002 or 2003 LACF’s partner church, which shares offices with LACF, ran a capital campaign. Being newly retired, I was looking for an area of service and having a computer background, I volunteered for the campaign. There was a continued need at LACF, so I stayed on after the campaign.
What motivates you to stay involved at LACF?
It is hard to say what the motivation is totally, but it includes the ongoing need for what I do, the folks I work with (it is a “family”), and being part of something bigger than myself. LACF is a small organization and we have had staff come and go. It has really been a privilege to provide a degree of constancy that enables the work in my area to continue and to support new staff where their need and my skills intersect. LACF has become a home away from home.
What is your favorite memory of volunteering with LACF?
It is hard to select a favorite memory. First, I would say that before important meetings or events we get together to pray, like when our Executive Director has an important lunch, meeting or tour of our programs. At one time, LACF included homeless outreach and I got to know some of our guests. Occasionally, some old friends stop by and it is always good to see them. Currently, all program areas work more closely together than before and there is more of a team feeling which is good. Just this last weekend some of us in the office got together for a potluck lunch and painting pictures with acrylic paints.
What has surprised you most about working with LACF? What do you wish other people knew about LACF?
The Lord keeps us humble at LACF. Finances are pretty lean at times and we have to belt tighten. It is no longer a surprise, but it was at the beginning. Our name currently includes the name of our church partner Lake Avenue Church. I would wish there was a way to clearly communicate we are a separate organization and we could use their direct support of our work.
What would you tell someone who is interested in volunteering with LACF?
There are many areas where people can serve, from administration to working in programs. If you want to be part of the tutoring program there are several areas you can serve other than tutoring, like helping with reading and enrichment programs. You can choose the age level you want to work with. You are not in this alone as there is training and support all along the way. If you want to be a mentor you will be matched with a student and have a mentor coach that will support you all along the way.
For more information about volunteering with Lake Avenue Community Foundation, please visit http://www.lakeavefoundation.org/vounteer/