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Examiner
  • New volunteer program to begin in June

  • Even with the short notice that YouthFriends gave participating school districts about its closure next month, the Independence School District already has plans in place to continue its volunteer program.

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  • Even with the short notice that YouthFriends gave participating school districts about its closure next month, the Independence School District already has plans in place to continue its volunteer program.
    “We did receive short notice,” said Allison Kisner, assistant director of the Independence School District Foundation. “But with the foundation, we can easily turn around and make our own program.”
    YouthFriends connects students, teachers and schools with community mentors. These mentors come into the schools to do a variety of things such as reading to students or classes or helping students with homework.
    YouthFriends announced last week that it would be shutting down operations in May. A letter was sent to all school districts that the non-profit volunteer organization serves in the Kansas City area announcing the decision. Only three school districts in Eastern Jackson County participate in YouthFriends - Independence, Fort Osage and Raytown.
    “We have provided tools, knowledge and a passionate group of volunteers that will continue to flourish under the direction of each individual school district,” said YouthFriends in a statement. “We encourage all districts associated with YouthFriends to embrace the tenants of our model and develop a program that fulfills the specific needs of their school and students. We know that our partnering school districts believe that community involvement is vital to the success of children and they will be in touch with you as they identify ways to continue that tradition.”
    Currently, YouthFriends is in the negotiation process with the North Kansas City School District to transfer its YouthFriends brand and property to the district, which has one of its largest groups of volunteers. The remaining school districts are required to return all YouthFriends materials and refrain from using the name once the 2012-13 school year concludes.
    Kisner said the Independence program will operate in a similar fashion to YouthFriends and begin June 1. She also said all current volunteers will have the opportunity to remain with their groups or students under the new program.
    “Our volunteers are extremely important,” she said. “They not only provide a sense of community for the students, but they are vital in everything we do. Our volunteers come out for anything that we ask. They are there to help and support.”
    Another event that will undergo a name change is the annual YouthFriends golf tournament, which is May 29 at the WinterStone Golf Course. All of the proceeds, as in the past, will remain in Independence, but after this year’s event, the name will change to reflect the new program.
    The tournament starts at 7 a.m. with registration and continues with a shotgun start at 8 a.m. There will be lunch and prizes at the end of the tournament. A team of four is $500 and includes 18 holes of golf, a cart, breakfast and lunch and drink tickets. Sponsorships are also available at several different levels.
    Page 2 of 2 - To register for the tournament or to become a sponsor, visit the Independence School District Foundation’s website at www.ourisdf.org or call 816-521-5300.
    “Our volunteers will be the first ones to know,” Kisner said of the launch of the new volunteer program. “We will have some of the same guidelines and processes as YouthFriends, but we are also looking to make some improvements. What we need to do now is figure out a new name.”
     
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