YMCA searches for diverse volunteers

Branden Peterson

From Thursday morning to Friday afternoon, University YMCA volunteers camped out on Northrop mall and the Superblock to promote YMCA programs such as Y-Buddies and to talk to students about the merits of volunteering.

Struggling to stay dry and warm from frequent rain and chilly fall temperatures, YMCA volunteers spoke with interested students, handed out applications and encouraged students to get involved. The organization is now recruiting for several programs working with children and fellow students.

Matt Bahr, Y-Buddies coordinator, said his team’s soggy day camping on Northrop mall was well worth it to promote the YMCA. Also preparing for his third year as a “big brother,” the University junior said the Y-Buddies program hopes to find an additional 40 volunteers.

Although he is thrilled with the people who will be involved in the program this year, Bahr has one concern – diversity. A majority of volunteers are white females, and the “Y” hopes more male students will seek out the program.

“We are searching desperately for diversity in our program,” Bahr said. “We’ve got a multiracial, multibackground community to be working with. Many of the boys want a ‘big brother,’ and hopefully we can get more guys involved.”

Sara Testen, Y-Buddies and Y-Scholars program director, said University students offer a variety of skills and experiences that work perfectly with YMCA’s community goals.

“Students are great role models; they’re successful students who have made it to college, and they have much to give,” she said.

Whether working with children in grades three through five in the Y-Buddies program or traveling on an environmental backpack trip with fellow students, the University YMCA has a variety of programs with which students can be involved.

Anyone who doubts they have the time to be involved with the University YMCA shouldn’t be concerned, Testen said; it’ll be worth the time.

“A lot of our programs are really flexible,” she said. “The relationships are really fun. Mentors get done with the program thinking they’ve grown more than our children. You definitely get more out of it than you give.”

More information on University YMCA programs and an online application can be found on the Web at www.umn.edu/u-ymca, by e-mail at [email protected], by calling (612) 676-7700 or at the University YMCA Building at 1801 University Avenue.


Branden Peterson welcomes comments at [email protected]