August 15, 2019Youth in Action » West Park Volunteer Youth Program

This summer, fifteen West Park youth ages 14-15 decided to use their summer to for good, and earn a little money at the same time.  Bellaire Puritas Development Corporation piloted the West Park Youth Volunteer Program, with support from the City of Cleveland, to engage youth in volunteering who are too young to be employed, and reward them a $200 stipend for completing all required components of the program.  In order to successfully complete the program, the youth attended a program orientation, volunteered 35 hours in the community, and either attended a wrap-up reflection session or submitted a 300-word essay about their experience.

Students completed their 35 hours in the community at one primary site, and filled in their remaining hours at community events.  Primary work sites this summer included the Blessed Trinity community garden, Bountiful Basement Food Pantry, Bard High School Early College, R.G. Jones Summer Enrichment Program, Riverside Park Summer Camp, and Impact Youth basketball skills program.  The youth volunteers learned a range of skills including gardening, customer service, filing and organizing, and working with children.

One participant, Viviana, who worked at the Bountiful Basement, explained the importance of taking initiative, and being polite to customers. “When I had to take customers’ orders I was nervous at first but i got used to it,” she said. “Just be polite and ask nicely.”

Jaden, who worked at Bard High School, said about her experience, “I learned the importance of being on time. Doing a program like this you always have to be on time because people rely on you being there, and you have responsibilities to uphold. I have also learned how much work has to be put into the upcoming school year. I’ve learned what teachers have to do to prepare for students and to get their lessons in order.”

Thirteen of the fifteen participants this summer completed the program before the start of the school year, and the other two will be finishing this fall.  There will be a fall session of the program available for five additional students.  This summer’s participants encouraged their peers to get involved with the program, recommending it was a good way to get out of the house, meet new people, help the community, and earn money. To learn more about participating in the fall session of the west Park Youth Volunteer Program, either as a youth or as a volunteer site, contact Vanessa Lange at v.lange@bpdc.org or (216) 671-2710.