After spending two years involved in a philanthropic program designed for youth, and realizing the positive impact it had on my life, I was curious if other participants had experienced the same thing.
The program is called Youth in Philanthropy, or YiP, and it has changed my perspective on many things, including my everyday life.
An initiative of The Winnipeg Foundation, YiP is designed to introduce motivated young people to philanthropy and local community development. The program gives youth hands-on experience working as a team and with local charitable organizations. It is truly a one-of-a-kind experience as it increases general awareness and development of charitable organizations around Winnipeg.
Sherry Viloria, a YiP participant at my high school, Argyle Alternative, says, “What made me want to join YiP is the sense of community within our student body and city, the impact and the contribution that we can have on the people of our city.”
When a close friend told me about the program, I didn’t think I could spare the time during my day to get involved. But, when I researched YiP a bit more, and found out that participants grant money to local charities chosen by youth, I decided to join.
In my first year as a Yipper, I went to see the Winnipeg Humane Society and The Mental Health Association. Both organizations opened my eyes to the extent that people and animals need our help.
During the YiP year-end year celebration, I was able to meet a representative from the Winnipeg Humane Society who told me about some of the animals I had helped, which made me feel really great.
One of the more popular YiP activities is the ‘site visit’, which is a way for youth to get a first-hand look at the charities they’ve chosen for donations. Students call, email, or go down to the charity and set up a tour with a representative from the organization who can answer questions.
“My favourite site visit was D’arcy’s ARC,” says Casper Spence, Yipper at Argyle. “We got to pet Fipper, and see pregnant cats, and kittens.”
Another YiP participant, Mike Plaetinck, also from Argyle, says, “I can’t single out one specific site visit because I enjoyed them all. They each taught me something new, and I got to learn about the different charities and their work.”
For my part, I’m also unable to pick just one site visit I liked the most. My list of visits included the Humane Society, The Mental Health Association, W.R.E.N.C.H, ALS Society, and D’Arcy’s ARC.
Each and every one of these organizations taught me something new, and enabled me to see all the amazing things one person, or a group of people can do for this city, be it helping animals, children, or struggling adults. I discovered these charities are there to help and I truly love them all.
Many youth go into YiP not knowing where it will take them, and they don’t have any idea what could be learned from this experience, whether it’s improving their communication and information gathering skills, or learning how to interact with the community. By facing various challenges, they prevail and learn from them all.
“One of the things I learned while being a part of YIP was the vast amount of worthwhile charities there are throughout the city of Winnipeg.” says Plaetinck, who is a Staff Advisor at Argyle.
“I have increased my organizational skills, time management, responsibility, punctuality, and interpersonal skills while being a part of YiP,” says Viloria.
Argyle Yipper, Jadene Chaboyer, sums it up simply. “One word – confidence” she says. “Being a part of YiP has taught me not to be shy, and learn to be forward and ask questions when I need to.”
Kane Kirton, another participant from Argyle, adds, “I’ve learned how to set up meetings, record notes and present ideas, and to make positive change in my community.”
Personally, I learned how to talk on the phone without having a panic attack. To have anxiety in a situation where you are supposed to initiate conversation and keep it going is very difficult. The first few times for me was really rough, but now I can call almost anyone, anywhere, and just strike up a conversation. So, being a part of this group has drastically helped my chronic social-awkwardness.
Another thing I learned was to open up my mind. I always had this idea in my head that no one needs my help; they have enough help already, I thought. Well, I was wrong.
Going to different non-profit organizations allowed me to discover the many things I can do to help out in our community.
Every year, dozens of schools, thousands of youth, and hundreds of organizations are a part of this program. Thousands of dollars are invested back into our community, to grow and prosper within our city. Money for animals, child care, elder citizens, homeless folks, hungry people, abused families, you name it, YiP has more than likely helped it.
“Youth in Philanthropy has opened my eyes to the fact that no matter who someone is, or where they come from, they still care about the community and want to see it grow,” says Tolu Ilelaboye, the Youth Engagement Coordinator at The Winnipeg Foundation.
“For students, it provides the means to get involved in local community growth and development, while for the community as a whole, it shows that youth today want to get involved, and make positive change,” she says.
“The impact of YiP on me was a very eye opening set of experiences, such as going to see all the good Main Street Project does,” says Plaetinck.
“But also, it helped me gain a better appreciation for what I have and what little others have. I’ve also come to realize that there is indeed a lot of good people in this world, many of whom just want to make change for the better,” he adds.
“Being a part of YiP has given me knowledge about the challenges people face in our society,” says Kirton. “It has also shown me how I can help the community and the people face these challenges and overcome them.”
Chaboyer adds, “It has made me come to appreciate the things I have in my life and to never take things for granted.”
Another Argyle participant, Trevor Yu, says, “It has given me more awareness of the good people do in the community.”
Viloria adds, “Youth in Philanthropy has impacted me by informing myself and other youth that we do have a way and the ability to make a change or difference in our community.”
Being a part of Youth in Philanthropy has shown me the many great organizations around Winnipeg. It has also let me realize which organizations really need our help: the lesser known organizations that don’t have the budgets to garner a lot of attention and attract donations. Being able to assist these charities made me feel great.
Finally, being with YiP has made me more open to volunteering. This was instrumental in allowing me to gain a community service award from United Way, an honour for which I am extremely proud.