To Meaghan Schiffler, the world is bigger than just her family, her school, her city. The high school junior from Holland has been volunteering with her family since she was very young. This past summer, she took it to a new level with two stints in the Plymouth YMCA’s Youth Volunteer Corps.
Meaghan had a personal connection to the program — her older sister, Ashleigh, directs the metro Detroit Girls on the Run program headquartered in the Plymouth Y. Meaghan was visiting her sister this summer for a week, and Ashleigh wanted her to have something rewarding to do while she was working during the day. Youth Volunteer Corps was a perfect fit.
“I’ve seen Ashleigh go off into the Peace Corps, which I thought was really cool,” Meaghan says. “With YVC I got to go off and volunteer on my own too. It helped me see that I can make a difference myself.”
Meaghan worked with other teens at the Matthei Botanical Gardens in Ann Arbor, at a community garden in Detroit, and at a Gleaners warehouse. They also made recycled art pieces that will hang throughout Downtown Detroit.
Meaghan really loved the experience of volunteering for the first time in Detroit, she says, and it allowed her to broaden her horizons in a way volunteering around her hometown did not. “I think having that experience helped me advocate with other people to go somewhere new and not just stay in my little world,” she says.
She liked it so much, as a matter of fact, that she returned for another week later in the summer. She’d had hip surgery right after her first stint, and came back as soon as she was off crutches.
Meaghan said she met several people who had an impact on her, but found a true role model in YVC leader Heather Jones. A recent college graduate, Heather was old enough to have authority with the YVC group but young enough to relate to them, Meaghan says. “I loved her point of view on everything –she was very open and had a lot of positive energy.”
Meaghan wants to perhaps start a similar program in Holland — and she plans on coming back to volunteer with YVC next summer.