YRTC youth in Kearney learn importance of volunteerism

Youth at the YRTC learn the importance of helping the community while volunteering at the Kearney Salvation Army.
Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 8:30 AM CDT
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KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) - Youth at the Kearney Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center (YRTC) can often be seen in a negative light, but a program at the facility is offering some a chance to change that narrative while building on skills for a brighter future.

Whether it’s pulling weeds, stacking boxes, or sorting clothes and other items, a group from the YRTC are once again helping out weekly around town.

“Our goal at the YRTC is to help these guys become better young men and make better decisions in their own communities. That’s why important to do this work out in the community, to show care for others,” said Jamar Love, Unit Manager with DHHS.

The program has been going on for years, but was put on hold for some time due to COVID. In recent weeks the focus has been at the Kearney Salvation Army, where volunteers are essential to day to day operations.

“Volunteers are kind of the heart and soul of what we do here. When people come along side of us and volunteer here it’s a great blessing to us and a blessing to the community,” said Envoy Steven Dahl, Kearney Salvation Army.

Not only is it a good chance for the youth to understand the importance of volunteering, but also to remember what life is like, and can be like for them outside of the facility.

“We try to normalize things for these guys because they’ve been in and out of facilities for the last few years of their life. So we want to try and get them in the right direction of feeling like a normal teenage. They all have better attitudes being able to get off of campus. And then feel like they’re making a change and helping people in some way,” said Love.

While their paths to volunteerism may be marked with bumps along the way, “We don’t know everybody’s story. We don’t know the background and what’s going on,” said Dahl.

For those working with the youth, it’s about looking forward and not behind.

“The main thing is that we’re here for the kids. To help them become young adults, young men, and to better themselves and to better their futures,” said Love.

You can catch the group volunteering at the animals shelters and other areas from time to time as well.

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