Youth United Way: Learning how to be adults, allocate money | CraigDailyPress.com

Youth United Way: Learning how to be adults, allocate money

Noelle Leavitt Riley

Youth United Way and Key Club members work hard to contribute to the community. The group has its own interview and allocation process, teaching teens how to be young business professionals through nonprofit work.

Perhaps one of the most powerful lessons teenagers can learn is the art of giving back.

That's exactly what Youth United Way and Key Club have taught hundreds of Craig's young adults over the years — and that tradition isn't going away anytime soon.

"I've definitely learned a lot," said Katelyn Peroulis, co-president of Moffat County Youth United Way. "I've learned about what it's like in the real world and how a board works and all the aspects of a nonprofit."

Peroulis and Aubrey Campbell are the presidents of Youth United Way, giving their time and effort to see Moffat County non-profits thrive through their volunteer work.

The two young women work on a four-person board to help facilitate events in the community such as Festival of Trees and the KRAI food drive each year.

"I started in Key Club and Youth United Way when I was a sophomore," Peroulis said. "I had some friends that were involved, and they said it was really cool to volunteer and make a difference in the community."

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This year, Peroulis anticipates that she’ll log a total of 80 hours of volunteer time, even though the two organizations only require that students put in 50 hours a year of volunteer work.

Roughly 80 Moffat County High School students are involved in Key Club and Youth United Way, with about 12 to 15 who are actively involved on a day-by-day basis, said Corrie Ponikvar who has helped mentor students over the years.

Training students on how to be young professionals is a huge part of the process. Much like Moffat County United Way, Youth United Way also allocates money to nonprofits in the community.

Moffat County United Way gives Youth United Way $5,000 each year, and the Human Resource Council (HRC) also gives the youth organization $5,000. An additional $2,000 was earned through selling wreaths to the community over the holidays, giving Youth United Way a total of $12,000 to allocate to nonprofits.

Nonprofits can apply for three sources of funding each year through United Way, Youth United Way and the HRC.

Youth United Way must interview the nonprofits who apply for money, and the teens then choose where they'd like that money to go.

"It's very student-driven," Ponikvar said. "They come business dressed, ready to work and interview the agencies. If you want to get money, (you) have to be interviewed."

It teaches students how to manage money, sit on a board and interview skills.

"I've helped every year with the allocation process," Peroulis said. "It's a really good learning process on how to be on a board. The kids, we're all the ones that do everything, and we talk about who to give the money to and how much."

To further boost funding and its presence in the community, the week of Valentine's Day, Youth United Way organized a bake sale.

"In our school (we) promoted Have a Heart Week," Peroulis said of the Valentine's fundraiser. "We're showing the kids the importance of having a heart and being nice to each other.

Those proceeds will be given to St. Michael’s Catholic Church to use for its soup kitchen or other community endeavors.

Contact Noelle Leavitt Riley at 970-875-1790 or nriley@craigdailypress.com. Follow her on Twitter @noelleleavitt.

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