Youth Volunteer Corps of Reading has recognized Wilson High School junior, Samantha Martinez, with its annual Youth of the Year Award.
As the youth program arm of VOiCEup Berks, YVCR engages over 500 Berks County students annually in projects that serve the community. This award is given to one student who has shown exemplary leadership skills, has advanced the mission of YVCR through volunteerism and the development of creative YVCR projects, and has the highest level of volunteer commitment recorded in the program year.
This program year, Samantha served over 230 hours on community projects ranging from volunteering at homeless shelters, to helping develop and run summer story time and playground programs, to facilitating conversations about equality and justice for groups of students in her school and adults in the community.
Since her involvement with YVCR began five years ago, Samantha has amassed over 500 hours of service with the program, making Samantha the first recipient of the YVCR 500-Hour Award as well.
Samantha began her journey with YVCR as a sixth grader at Reading Southern Middle School. In middle school she worked with a group of her peers, developing projects to help underserved women and girls gain access to menstrual products. As a high school student at Wilson, Samantha has gone on to be a leader within the Stand Together Against Racism (S.T.A.R.) youth-driven initiative. She also serves as a YVCR Youth Mental Health Ambassador and served her first term on the Youth Advisory Board of Berks County Community Foundation and Youth Volunteer Corps.
“She is the epitome of grace, kindness and strength. Her leadership skills and ability to make everyone around her feel at ease makes her light impossible to ignore. She is a true leader and community changemaker.” says Lindsay Sites, YVCR Program Director.
“Having the opportunity to be a part of YVCR for the past five years has definitely changed my life for the better” says Samantha. “This program has not only taught me how to speak up for what’s right and be a better person, but it has also given me the chance to make lifelong friendships. I am beyond grateful to have accepted this award and hope to continue being a change maker in my community in the years to come.”
Samantha received the Youth of the Year recognition at the annual YVCR Awards Ceremony on August 1.
Other students honored at the event included five of Samamtha’s fellow Wilson classmates – Jaida Garber, Kemi Ojikutu, Sindura Sridhar, Mia Worley and Athena Worley – who were each honored with the 100-in-One Award for completing over 100 hours of service to the community through YVCR in one program year.
Cadence Perez from Muhlenberg High School received the Heart of YVC Award and the YVCR club at Northeast Middle School in Reading received the YVCR Project of the Year Award for its project addressing domestic violence and supporting Safe Berks.
Youth Volunteer Corps of Reading focuses on developing leadership skills and promoting a lifetime commitment to service among youth by offering student-driven volunteer projects for youth ages 11 to 18 on Saturdays, after school, during school, virtually, and during the summer.
YVC of Reading, hosted by VOiCEup, is one of over 30 affiliates of Youth Volunteer Corps, headquartered in Kansas City. YVC of Reading has engaged hundreds of young people from diverse backgrounds in over 35,000 hours of service to help this community over the past 7 years. Find more information at voiceupberks.org/yvc. VOiCEup Berks is a fund of Berks County Community Foundation.