Interview with Volunteers for Youth in Tulsa, OK
Ranger Roofing of Oklahoma, the local professional roofing contractor from Tulsa, OK, spoke to Mendy Stone from a local non-profit organization Volunteers for Youth. She presented the organization, its goals, motivations, work, and projects.
Also, Volunteers for Youth will soon be celebrating their 20th birthday, so they are preparing a special birthday event. Consider making a small donation for their birthday or help them through volunteering within one of their programs.
To begin with, we would like you to briefly tell us about your organization
Twenty years ago with a vision that all Rogers County youth would succeed, a group of individuals formed Rogers County Volunteers for Youth and initiated a school-based mentoring program. Fast forward to today and we are proud to share that more than 5,500 area youth have been served by, not only our PAL mentoring program, but by our expanded services into after-school care, classroom setting for suspended students, a diversion program for first offenders and a host of prevention/healthy living activities.
- What do you do exactly?
And what was the reason that encouraged you to start this organization?
The founding board members were motivated by an impactful presentation by General Colin Powell in Oklahoma City where he touted the successes of mentoring and the positive direction a single volunteer mentor could offer a child.
- What motivates you?
Describe your mission passion
I am motivated every day by the hard-working, passionate and selfless project directors and staff members at Volunteers for Youth. Their heart for service to the at-risk youth of our Rogers County communities is abundantly clear as they tirelessly work to match mentors with students, support and keep suspended students on track, supervise and tutor junior high kids after school, create and monitor a plan for juveniles who have committed their first offense, promote healthy living, and strategize to deter youth from the dangers of drugs, alcohol, tobacco and prescription drug misuse.
- Tell us about your goals.
Our goal is simply to “keep all of the balls in the air” and never have to close down a program because of funding. This has never been easy and probably never will be, but we continue to try and cultivate relationships with individuals, corporations, and regional foundations while always searching for the next grant. Being a truly “local” organization without any ties to national affiliates is hard, but we take pride in the fact that somehow we’ve always found a way. If someone is reading this and would like to know more about how to help us financially, I hope they will contact us and arrange to learn more.
- What was the hardest/toughest moment you had to deal with?
Obstacles you faced when dealing with bureaucracy, permits, funding, etc. Something you would like to point out to anyone who might be starting their own organization.
Leadership transition has been one of the toughest issues as I have stepped down as the Executive Director into a part-time role. I would encourage even brand new organizations to plan for succession in the leadership area.
- What was the most fulfilling moment that happened to you?
Personally, I am most fulfilled by the relationships I have built over the years with the individual young ladies that I have mentored. Professionally, this milestone of reaching 20 years of existence as an organization and calculating the number of individual youth we have served are most fulfilling.
- What separates you from the rest? Why you?
Without me even realizing it, I believe God uniquely prepared me to have this opportunity. My early professional life in public relations, my 10 years of owning and operating a retail business, and my 2-3 years of substitute teaching all taught me skills and helped me form relationships that have been instrumental in my role at Volunteers for Youth. Also, having the opportunity to create programs from the ground up (especially in mentoring) has allowed me to gain knowledge and skills that I have had the honor and pleasure to share with many others across the state and even nationally.
- Do you have any upcoming events in the forthcoming months?
January is National Mentoring Month, and we will honor our own mentors and our selected Mentors of the Year on January 31st beginning at 11:30 am at the Claremore campus of the Northeast Technology Center. We invite anyone who can come to be in attendance and learn more about our mentoring programs. Because we are celebrating 20 years, the Roaring 20s is the theme we have selected for our annual “Chair-ity” Auction which will be Saturday, March 3rd at the Claremore Conference Center at 6:30 pm. This year we are kicking it up a notch and planning a gala event that will feature a live and silent auction, period attire (optional), grazing stations, beer, wine and a signature cocktail/mocktail. Named “Chair-ity” because it originated as an auction of creatively repurposed chairs, the auction has now expanded to include all types of handcrafted, upcycled and even vintage furniture pieces. Donations from skilled craftsmen, Pinterest enthusiasts, and even first-time creative types are still being sought.
- What is it that you love most about what you do?
I love making Rogers County a better place by positively impacting the lives of youth.
- What is the biggest challenge you’re faced with today?
Two of our programs face critical funding issues. Our flagship program, PAL, is in its final year of a 3-year grant from the state Office of Juvenile Affairs that is non-renewable. Our U-Turn Academy is the classroom setting where students on long-term suspension from school are supervised and supported until they can successfully return to their home school. The grant for this program has also ended. A minimum of $100,000 is needed keep both of these programs in place.
- Anything else you would like to add?
Please consider honoring our 20 years of service and making a donation and/or volunteering within one of our programs.
Contact: How can people reach out to you?
Your organization’s name, phone, address, e-mail and links to your website and social media
Volunteers for Youth,
1700 S Lynn Riggs Blvd, Suite A, Claremore, OK, firstname.lastname@example.org; https://www.facebook.com/events/1144066429058018/