Youth Volunteers give mock check to city for $60,000

Front row: Erick Rangel, 11; Sydney Meek, 11; Mayor Maile Wilson; Jaidi Willden,12; Back Row: Abbigail Strassman, 13; Zachary Bittmenn, 12; Samara Rangel, 16; Aubrey Grimshaw,16; Noah Strassman, 15; Kaylin Shelley, 17; YVC coordinator Cindy Rose, City Council Chambers, Cedar City, Utah, March 11, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Cindy Rose, St. George News

CEDAR CITY – Nine Youth Volunteer Corps members  and their volunteer coordinator from the Volunteer Center of Iron County and Five County Association of Governments presented Cedar City with a mock check for $60,000 at Wednesday night’s City Council meeting.

The dollar amount on the mock check was calculated by multiplying the volunteer hours served by the Youth Volunteer Corps students by a predetermined dollar value assigned by the federal government, YVC Coordinator Cindy Rose said.

The corps currently has 32 active student volunteers serving in the Iron County area, she said, and the hours they served in 2014 totaled to just over 3,200. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, a Utah volunteer hour is worth $22.65.

“Nine of the kids came with me,” Rose said, “and they each said something about YVC; a project or something they’ve done, why they like it and what it’s done for them.”

The group of young volunteers handled themselves quite well in the public forum, Cedar City Councilman Fred Rowley said. He was taken completely off-guard by their commitment to serve, he said, and the manner in which they handled themselves in a public forum was top notch.

“One of the good things about them was they had a really good ‘stage presence’ so-to-speak,” he said. “They all came to the microphone and spoke and said what their names were and some of the good things they had done to raise funds and awareness for different causes.

“They just did a really nice job,” he added.

When presented with the number of volunteer hours the students provided in the community, Rowley said, he was astonished; because, he hadn’t realized the amount of hard work the Youth Volunteer Corps had provided Cedar City residents in 2014.

“All of the council thought that this was just one of the greatest things,” he said. “That these students were making a difference in the community at that young age, (and) that they are doing great things for other people – it’s really what makes the world go ‘round.”

The Corporation for National and Community Service reported that, in 2013, Utah rated first out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia for service hours provided, citing that 44 percent of residents participated in volunteerism.

From scavenger hunting for canned goods to helping the Bread of Life Soup Kitchen feed the homeless, to filling shoeboxes with special gifts for children at Christmas, Rose said, the youth volunteers have inserted themselves into vital roles in the Cedar City community.

The work doesn’t stop there, she said, explaining that the students have ventured beyond the city lines to help Dust Devil Ranch and Sanctuary for Horses.

We have fifth graders just waiting to turn 11 so they can join our YVC Program,” Rose said. “We volunteer for nonprofit agencies, community events and anywhere that needs our help.”

Volunteers come from Canyon View Middle School, Canyon View High School, Cedar Middle School, Cedar High School and Southern Utah University Success Academy, she said. They range in age from 11 to 17.

It is exciting to meet new people and have the opportunity to help them with whatever a project might call for, 16-year-old Canyon View High School Junior Samara Rangel said.

“I have never been to a City Council meeting before last night,” she said. “It was a little exciting and it made me a little nervous too, but it was so much fun.”

Having never attended a meeting before, Rangel said, she wasn’t sure what to expect. Now she has become more curious about how the system works, she said, and what roles council members play in the community.

Cedar City Mayor Maile Wilson said she was incredibly impressed with the students who came to speak at council Wednesday night. The community is part of a culture of caring that begins at an early age, she said.

“It seems like, at a very young age, the children around here are taught to care for and about their neighbors,” the mayor said. “It is neat to see so many young people getting involved and making a difference.”

During the City Council meeting Wednesday, each of the council members and the mayor were given two invitations to the upcoming fundraising gala at Festival Hall in the Heritage Center Theater on March 27.

Chartwells out of Southern Utah University will cater the event, Rose said, and all of the money raised from the event will go towards funding YVC activities.

“I want to be clear when I say that none of the YVC money goes toward anything else,” Rose said. “Not even my salary. That is paid from other sources.”

Part of the reason YVC presented a mock check to the Cedar City Council was to try to raise awareness about their program and garner support from the city and community members so they can raise the bar of service to a new level. Rose said she believed there is a “disconnect” between the work they have done in the community and city officials’ awareness about their program.

“I don’t think that is there anymore,” she said. “They were all really nice and engaging with the students who attended the meeting with us. I think they were pleasantly surprised.”

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