Richmond is a place where youth are making their mark, and the newly-formed Richmond Schools Youth Volunteer Association (RSYVA) is proof. We're delighted to let volunteer blogger Amanda Oye introduce you to some of RSYVA's directors - Beini Yin and Marco Yip.
RSYVA at the Richmond Leadership Showcase at Aberdeen
There is no need to lament the apathy of youth today – the members of the Richmond Schools Youth Volunteer Association (RSYVA) have already shattered that illusion.
RSYVA is what you get when you combine four volunteer clubs from across the Richmond School District that want to get more high school students excited about volunteering.
Their biggest selling point? Volunteering is actually really fun.
“There’s no bad thing about volunteering,” said Marco Yip, a grade 12 student from Richmond Secondary.
In 2013, Marco got together with a few other like-minded students to create RSYVA. The association’s first members were Richmond Secondary’s Colts That Care, Steveston-London Secondary’s Jaws With a Cause, and Palmer Secondary’s Griffins That Give.
Burnett’s Breakers That Believe joined soon after when RSYVA began to reach out to other schools in the district to see if they were interested in starting volunteer clubs and joining the association.
There is no president of this entirely student-run organization.
“We work more collaboratively,” said Marco. Beini, another RSYVA member, said that making the decision to operate without a president was very natural.
“Because we are all presidents of [the] clubs at our schools, it just felt natural to work as a group of presidents rather than having one main person,” she said.
Beini, a grade 12 student at Burnett Secondary, sees volunteering as a rewarding and fun experience. She was in grade 10 when Marco approached her to get a volunteer club going at her school.
She jumped at the chance because she “wanted to bring Burnett students a new perspective,” she said. She saw her classmates volunteering within her school and sometimes at Thompson Community Center, but not really stepping outside to other organizations in the city.
Her classmates have also been prone to viewing volunteering as a tedious task since they are required to volunteer to graduate, making it “more of a pressure than an encouragement,” Beini said.
The members of the club she started, Breakers That Believe, have volunteered for a range of local causes including the Richmond Christmas Fund, the Richmond Food Bank, and the Salmon Festival.
While the clubs all pursue their own volunteering initiatives, being a part of RSYVA gives them the opportunity to work collaboratively on bigger projects to get more high school students volunteering not only because they have to, but because they want to.
The annual RSYVA Volunteer Fair at Richmond Secondary School
Two major projects they have organized have been an annual Volunteer Fair and a Youth Leadership Challenge, which Marco described as being like the Amazing Race, but with challenges to get youth thinking outside of the box.
Marco and Beini are both graduating at the end of the school year, but still have high hopes for the future of RSYVA.
“Our goal is to have every single school have a volunteer club,” Marco said.
As someone who has been volunteering since he was in elementary school, Marco is well aware of all of the benefits that volunteering can have. His experiences as a volunteer have helped him build a lot of skills including leadership and management skills, which will benefit him moving forward. He has also had plenty of opportunities to meet new people and learn new things.
“I have a more open mind now,” he said. He wants others to see the benefits of volunteering as well, and to get involved. “Do it because of all of the positives, from building your resume to building leadership skills, and meeting new people … it is all beneficial,” he said.
For more information about RSYVA, you can visit their Twitter (@rsyva2013) and Facebook pages.