In May, the idea to recruit volunteers to help Arcadia host 100 Special Olympics World Games athletes for three days prior to their competitions seemed a goal far off in the distance. I was concerned whether or not the Arcadia Civic Youth Council, which was still a fledgling idea barely conceived, would ever be successful in bringing people together for such a large cause. Yet, this organization and a couple of enthusiastic friends were able to host a lunch service at the Union Station Homeless Shelter to more than a hundred people soon after. Although small, that event was monumental in proving to all the Board members just how much potential Youth Council held. Add now months of dedication, and suddenly there was an event invite on Facebook, advertising the opportunity to volunteer for Special Olympics World Games. With the usual cynicism, I wondered just how many people would respond to the calling, and was pleasantly surprised to see a spreadsheet of potential volunteers go well into the 40s. The event, which brought together Arcadia’s Youth and athletes from Trinidad and Tobago and the Kyrgyz Republic, defined for our members the meaning of Youth Council. It reminded Board members of the cause we had committed ourselves to furthering. Gathering volunteers for the Special Olympics World Games, then, can be seen as the first moment when the Youth Council brought our mission to the public. Since then, we’ve participated in other community events, including an ongoing contribution to the Downtown Arcadia Street Fair every Friday this summer from Independence Day weekend to Labor Day weekend.
Being able to attract volunteers on such a large scale has given us a promising membership base, which allows us to focus on our next big project—water conservation. With our new members, the Youth Council will work on communicating with members of city staff and residents of Arcadia in order to heighten efforts concerning the drought. Such a big undertaking would never have crossed my mind just a few months ago, but through the hard work of the Youth Council members, I can now see endless possibilities. This is just the beginning of what is going to be a rewarding journey for all members of the Arcadia Civic Youth Council as we continue looking forward to helping others in the community.