Service learning, at Hays and all of IYR’s residential youth programs, allows kids to experience the satisfaction of making a difference—for some, for the first time in their lives. Hays kids spend time every week getting involved in their community through volunteer projects they plan themselves during weekly Youth Council meetings. It builds confidence and a sense of belonging—and it's fun!
This year, staff and kids set a goal of completing 1,000 hours of service learning, and they’ve already exceeded it! As of August, they had completed over 1,150 hours of service so far in 2014 and are projected to have completed nearly 1,500 hours of service by the end of the year.
Every Hays resident who logged any service learning hours during the past year was invited to the party to enjoy a barbeque, an awards ceremony, and a chance to celebrate their remarkable achievement together. Several Treasure Valley businesses got involved in the celebration, too, generously donating T-shirts and gift cards for the honorees.
Hand-made trophies were created for each attendee as well as prizes. Notably, the recipient of the Hays 1K Lifetime Achievement award, a young man who has been in and out of the shelter for the past few years, could not hide his pride. We saw it in his giddy smile when the entire group applauded his having spent over 200 hours of his time giving back to his community. "I guess all these tiny bits add up to a lot," he remarked later that evening. We couldn’t agree more.
You can read more about IYR's service learning program in a previous post at http://youthranch.org/whats-new/post/learning-through-service-at-hays-shelter-home