CommunityFeature

Youth organization offering purpose and connections grows dramatically

Photo: (l-r) New Youth President and Founder Nemo Cui with Outstanding Community Volunteer Award winner Freddie Chan and MPP Logan Kanapathi

What started as a small collection of high school students collaborating to find volunteer placements has, in three years, has quickly morphed into a socially-oriented community organization that is much more about giving youth real-life opportunities, learning, friendships, and networks as it is about something as mundane as filling out volunteer placement hours.

Trustee Ron Lynn and Jenny Chen help with MC duties

With over 2000 volunteers supported and 200 paid permanent members, the New Youth Volunteering Association (NYVA)  recently celebrated its first official anniversary. The group supports numerous community projects and events and its members with “the tools and resources they need to become change-makers in their own right” and make a difference in the world” says founder and chief motivator Nemo Cui.

Cui emphasizes that members’ long-term relationships with volunteering and each other benefit them and their community. His job is to cultivate meaningful connections with community groups and, to some degree, businesses that can enter into a mutually beneficial relationship with NYVA. Some organizations find him and he finds others.

“NGO’s (non-government (non-profit) organizations) are easier (to connect with). We know they are legit because they get grants from government” he observes. “One of the reasons I partner up with them is because they have a demand”, but adds that they do not have the same kind of recruitment expertise or systems that larger, for-profit enterprise have.

To date, NYVA has partnered with 47 non-profit and 20 for-profit organizations.

After a letter of engagement is signed, there is a reporting process that allows feedback both ways letting the NYVA and the partnered organizations know what went well and what could be improved on, contributing to a healthy two-way, long-term relationships says Cui.

Cui also notes that even though many young people come into the group to fulfil their 40 hours of community service required for high school graduation, the majority stay on board with the average volunteer having over 500 hours of service. With about two events of various kinds every week- some hosted by “partners” and some put on by NYVA, Cui says there is much to keep youth busy and productive.

For the $20 annual membership fee, they get a t-shirt and unique networking opportunities with other community-minded youth, community leaders, politicians, and business owners. With NYVA leaders in almost every secondary school in the Markham area, and more inquiries coming from outside York and even in other provinces, things seem to be set to take off even faster than it has in the last year.

The first anniversary celebration was impressive with the milestone event featuring a host of dignitaries such as Logan Kanapathi, MPP for Markham-Thornhill, Richmond Hill MPP Michael Parsa and York Region District School Board trustees Jenny Chen and Ron Lynn.

Nemo Cui presents lucky draw winner with prize

Complete with stand-up comedy, ethnic dance routines and musical performances, the line-up highlighted not only the talents of its member base, but also the multicultural nature of the group. The event also recognized outstanding service awards to its members and celebrated the achievements of the group members.

With a second year well underway, Cui has little time for talking. “We are not about talking. We are a group of doers”.

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