This page is highlighting some of the service work I had the privilege of being a part of for the last two semesters.  The work I chose to do was a bit different than what many of my peers chose to do.  Instead of going and working for a non-profit organization directly, I chose to find my own way to try to aid them in meeting their needs.  The community partner that I chose to partner with is a non-profit organization called The Reach Program.  The Reach Program goes and serves at the Division of Youth Homes here in Salt Lake City.  This is the facility where children, who have been removed from abusive and neglectful homes are taken while they await a more permanent and safe location to live.  It is a difficult situation for these children.  They are taken from their home where they have friends, pets, family, activities, hobbies, freedom, school, and so much more that they are accustomed to.  They are then placed in a lock-down facility where they lose any and all freedoms they once had.  The worst part is they are already the victims of abuse and neglect, otherwise they wouldn't have to be in this facility.  This is where The Reach Program steps in.  They are allowed access to these kids and given the freedom to engage in activities both on and off campus with them.  They bring the children some of the necessities and also provide them with some of the comforts of home that they would otherwise have to go without.  More than anything else, they provide hope and healing to children with little self-worth, self-esteem, or self-respect.  The time they dedicate to these children each week and the positive interactions they have with them is the beginning of a life long process by which these children learn that they really are worth all the love in the world.  Being a victim of abuse myself, I wish that a positive influence such as the team that is The Reach Program, could have come into my life during my rocky and fearful teenage years.  I know how much of a difference that could have made for me, which is why I chose to support The Reach Program in their mission.

This was project was nearly a year long.  It lasted two semesters and each semester had its own project.  The first project was a simple donation drive.  I ended up raising over 400 dollars worth of items for The Reach Program.  They gave me a list of items they needed and I took that, made flyers asking for donations, and put a twist on it.  I decided to enter everyone who donated into a prize drawing.  I spent only 60 dollars on the prizes and ended up generating the 400 dollars worth of donations that I then gave to The Reach Program, who in turn gave to the children for Christmas.  The second semester's project was a much larger task.  Myself and several other students formed a group, which I led.  We put on a community outreach event and benefit concert which raised awareness in our community about the issues surrounding the work that The Reach Program does and that the children they serve face.  Our outreach event also featured four other non-profit organizations/departments from here in the Salt Lake City area that provide resources to people facing the same issues that the children, who The Reach Program works with, faced in the homes they were taken out of.  Nearly 100 people attended this event, each one gaining knowledge and awareness not only about a local problem, but about how to be a part of the solution, and also resources that they have available to them should they need it.  This event ended up raising nearly 1000 dollars, all of which was donated to The Reach Program.

I am proud to say that I was a part of this project.  It was an awesome opportunity from which I gained experience that I know I will use in my future non-profit work.  It also gave me a chance to learn how to lead a group of my peers, which can be challenge to say the least.  Both the first and second projects were a success, and I know that team at The Reach Program were all very happy and grateful for the work that we did.

One special thanks I would like to give goes to The Thayne Center, who made these projects possible by providing the funds needed to make this all happen.  With those funds we were able to purchase the prizes for both raffles and we were able to pay for the venue in which the benefit concert/community outreach took place.  The following are pictures of that event.

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