Throughout the HOPE worldwide global community there are countless opportunities for volunteers to meet needs, whether it is for those in their own local community or across the globe in a majority nation. There are also several programs run by HOPE worldwide that many of our HOPE worldwide Canada young volunteers can get involved in to make a difference and grow in their leadership skills. One such program is the National Youth Advisory Council (NYAC). NYAC is for North American high school and post-secondary students who are trained to provide vision and creative solutions as servant leaders through meaningful, ongoing, relationship-oriented service to the materially poor and those in need. Council members aim to capture and share the heart of Jesus, journeying with orphaned, hungry, materially poor, elderly, sick, disaster-struck and broken-hearted people.
Oceane François-Saint-Cyr from our Montreal Chapter, age 16, has just this year been accepted into the NYAC program. We are excited for her and what she will learn in this year of training and meeting needs. We wanted to get to know her better and asked her some questions to see what drives her as a volunteer.
Where does your passion to serve come from?
Firstly, from a young age, I had the opportunity to participate in various HOPE worldwide activities with my parents and I was made aware of various needs in the community. Through those activities, I was also able to see how the gift of our time and our energy can have a real and tangible impact on those that we serve. As I grew older, I learnt that I am passionate about connecting with people, and that serving gives me a great opportunity to do so.
Finally, service has shown me that I am very blessed in my living condition. God has showered me with blessings and given me opportunities to give to those who are less fortunate, through service.
What has been your favourite service project?
It was definitely a trip that I took with my family to Indonesia in 2013, to help serve a community that was in need. Prior to the trip, my family and I collected some school supplies, soccer supplies and some medicine to deliver to a group of underprivileged children who were living in the slums of Jakarta. Not only was their neighbourhood flooded by the seasonal monsoon, but a couple weeks before our visit, they had suffered another disaster in the form of a fire. We were able to work in collaboration with the Jakarta HOPE worldwide chapter that was already involved in the situation. I was utterly amazed by the joy that these kids had, whilst living a life that seemed to be falling apart, simply to spend time with us and receive the little that we had to offer. It was very touching to see how something so very small, like a soccer ball, a notebook or a new backpack can bring someone so much joy. Moreover, it helped me understand that giving back to your community or helping someone in need doesn’t have to be something that costs thousands of dollars or requires hundreds of people to volunteer, it can be something as simple as a shared meal, a new shirt or a simple act of service.
Why did you join NYAC?
I decided to join NYAC because I knew that the program was designed to train students like me to be effective leaders and a servants in their local communities. I was also inspired by some of my friends who had participated on NYAC in previous years who had shared just how much this program helped them grow and learn tangible skills to be a leader wherever they are.
Why did you choose NYAC as a way to serve?
What I love about NYAC as opposed to any other program is that it is focused on helping the participants impact the people in need in their local communities. By focusing on my community, it provides a way to not only have a momentary impact to help those in need, but a sustainable one. It is much easier to get the involvement of public or private partners when the results are tangible and visible. Furthermore, I love the fact that NYAC is a year-long program, because it provides a helpful environment and the support needed for students who have a desire to serve, so that they can plan long term projects that will be more effective than small, personal, short term projects.
Who is your role model?
I look up to GSIs (Global Service Interns) who run HOPE Volunteer Corps sites as role models. I am constantly amazed and inspired by all the hard work and effort they put into organizing and putting into motion a Hope Youth Corps or a Hope Volunteer Corps. It takes so much planning and determination and a true heart to serve to accomplish leading not only one but several different programs.