Giving Youth the Tools for Well-Being

Being a trusted and constant resource for youth to grow in well-being, empathy and resilience is a priority for us at the Volunteer Center. It is consistent with our Engaging Hearts & Minds (EH&M) mandate and our efforts to address challenges in the lives of young people, including mental health. Whether youth reach out because they need support or want to help others, we host programs that provide valuable life skills, peer interaction, and a sense of authentic connection. We also offer scholarships that reward young people for resilience and achievement.

We construct our teen programs in consultation with both youth and experts. These programs offer meaningful experiences that employ evidence-based approaches from service-learning to social and emotional education models.

student writing

Durfee Family Scholarships

durfree family

Each year, the Volunteer Center awards scholarships to local graduating seniors. Recipients have demonstrated financial need and a commitment to academic endeavors, while simultaneously serving their communities and overcoming personal adversity. Funded by a generous endowment gift made by the late Ev Durfee, longtime Volunteer Center supporter and Board member, the Durfee Family Scholarship was established in 1988. This year, five $2,000 scholarships will be awarded in June 2022. Funds are provided to assist with the cost of classes, books, and other materials. The scholarship application is now open to apply:

Connect Program

To address the unique set of societal and mental health challenges faced by today’s youth, we launched Connect – a new five-week program. Connect is designed to help teens from 13-18 years of age in managing stress, building resilience, and enhancing social and emotional well-being. The program is led by licensed facilitator and therapist Macy Grim, M.S., LPCC, who engages with Connect groups in person or via Zoom. The teens’ caregivers are also engaged in the program, attending a one-time session at the outset and receiving regular email updates and discussion guides. Upon program completion, the Volunteer Center awards the teens with a certificate that can be cited on resumes or used for college applications.

Through Connect, participating teens:

  • Learn more about themselves
  • Build new skills
  • Relax and manage stress
  • Express themselves freely
  • Listen to others
  • Practice empathy
  • Get involved in volunteer service
  • Have fun
connect program

Our latest Connect group, offered in partnership with the Gardena-Carson YMCA and open to students in the area, will begin in spring 2022. To express interest in the Gardena-Carson group or future Connect groups, sign up below for notifications.


New Teen Program Coming Soon

two women volunteers

We are developing a new, volunteerism-focused youth experience program. Envisioned as a super-charged combination of popular legacy programs VCYC and VIVA with the new Connect, the new program will reflect our commitment to building empathy in our youth through experience. Participants will learn more about where care is needed most in our community, complete service hours directly addressing those needs, and interact with like-minded peers from varied backgrounds and different schools. The intended outcome is for students to practice valuable life skills, gain more empathy for both themselves and others, and reflect on the experience. The Volunteer Center will award youth completing the program with a certificate that can be cited on resumes or used for college applications. To be notified when registration for the new program begins, sign up below.

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