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.
Impact Makers – Building Skills for Life
Impact Makers – Building Skills for Life is a program to help youth gain a deeper understanding of themselves and the world around them. In this 12-week program, participants learn about the issues facing our local community and the support resources that are in place to help address them. Through an immersive service-learning experience, youth have the opportunity to serve the community and empathize with the experiences of others. Together with the caring Impact Maker team and fellow peers, they uncover the tools needed to support both themselves and others.
The next cohort of Impact Makers will begin October 4, 2023.
Volunteer Center – 1230 Cravens Avenue, Torrance, CA 90501
(Transportation assistance is available)
For 12 weeks, participants attend weekly group sessions on one day a week from 4:00pm-6:30pm and then complete 2-3 additional hours/week of volunteer service at a service-learning placement site on an additional weekday.
- Must be a resident of California and must live in the South Bay, Harbor, or Long Beach areas
- Must be a high school student for the 2023-2024 academic year
- Must be available to attend all weekly group sessions and service-learning commitments
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. Our first scholarship fund was founded by a generous endowment gift made by the late Ev Durfee, longtime Volunteer Center supporter and Board member, in 1988.
In the Spring/Summer of 2023, $2,000 grants were awarded to help (8) students attending college in Fall of 2023. Funds will assist with the cost of classes, books, and other materials. The next application period will begin again in the Spring semester of 2024. Please subscribe to our e-newsletter to stay tuned.
To address the unique set of societal and mental health challenges faced by today’s youth, during COVID, we launched Connect – a five-week program designed to help teens from 13-18 years of age manage stress, build resilience, and enhance social and emotional well-being. The program was led by licensed facilitators and therapists from a group led by Macy Grim, M.S., LPCC, who engaged 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 awarded the teens with a certificate that can be cited on resumes or used for college applications.
Through Connect, participating teens:
- Learned more about themselves
- Built new skills
- Relaxed and managed stress
- Expressed themselves freely
- Listened to others
- Practiced empathy
- Got involved in volunteer service
- Had fun!
Our latest Connect group, offered in partnership with the Gardena-Carson YMCA and open to students in the area, concluded summer 2022.
Based on feedback and interests from local youth, the benefits and elements of this program are now included in our upcoming Impact Makers Building Skills for Life program. You can learn more and apply above.