Why We Volunteer With Western Youth Network

Kids playing at Western Youth Network summer camp.

As you all might know, philanthropy and giving back to our community is extremely important to us at 828 Real Estate. Each of us gives to causes that we love and have a passion for. One of mine is Western Youth Network (WYN). I might be a little biased as my girlfriend, Sammi, works for WYN, but I truly believe in their mission and the things they do to serve Boone.

WYN has been involved in the High Country since the 1980’s and provides three areas of service to local youth. All of their programs focus on supporting youth in developing resilience, feeling safe to be themselves, and being compassionate about issues such as adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). The guidance that WYN provides is a huge help to kids in our community. Here are three reasons I volunteer with Western Youth Network.

#1: Community Health

The first is community health. This program serves Watauga, Avery, Ashe, Alleghany and Wilkes counties. The focus of WYN’s Community Health team is on substance abuse prevention and preventing underage drinking among other things. In 2018, WNY reported that there was a 48.8% decrease in reported high school alcohol use since their Watauga Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition was created in 2009, and that their public health efforts served 591,034 people in 2018.

#2: Afterschool Programs

WYN also has an afterschool program (where Sammi is an awesome After School Site Leader). This program seeks to provide a safe space for local middle school students to learn and grow during the afterschool hours of 3-6PM, which is proven to be a critical timeframe in a child’s day. The kids get tutoring, are provided healthy snacks, play games and have a plethora of extracurricular activities to participate in. The after school staff also runs a summer camp, which is full of adventures and fun experiences for the kids.

Timmy and Jordan have been matched close to 8 months. These two are probably two of the most on the go fellas we have in our program. They are constantly outside hiking, walking dogs, throwing a ball, or just enjoying a variety of foods. Jordan and Timmy have already learned so much from one another in a shore period of time, including how to respect others, have patience, and constantly have an adventure.#3: Mentorship Programs

Finally, WYN has a mentor program that connects local people in the community with youth between ages 6 and 17 in Avery and Watauga counties. Mentors and their mentees agree to spend some time together each week for a year. I am a mentor and have had an incredible experience hanging out with my mentee. Our favorite activity is going to the river, but our guilty pleasure is getting ice cream and walking around downtown. WYN also has a school based mentoring program, where mentors can volunteer to be a lunch buddy for students.

If you want to support WYN by becoming a mentor or by making a donation, check out their website.

About the Author
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