For over 60 years, United Way of Greater Yankton has empowered the nonprofit organizations working to make our community a better place. One such organization is Girls on the Run, which was launched in Yankton in 2015, helping girls lead healthier lives and be inspired to reach their own potential.
Recently, long-time volunteer coach and advocate for Girls on the Run, Amy Reyes, was named as United Way’s June Volunteer of the Month for not only her passion to empower local girls, but for her dedication and time shared with many local nonprofits.
EmBe Executive Director of Youth Programs, Stacy Stahl nominated Reyes for the award, sharing, “Amy has volunteered for Girls on the Run for a number of years, and not only in Yankton. Amy’s passion for service to Girls on the Run started in Sioux Falls when she was doing her student teaching while pursuing her counseling degree. When Amy was offered a position at the High School in Yankton, she was excited to also bring her Girls on the Run experiences and passion for service to Yankton as well. She has been coaching with us ever since! Amy is very mission focused – she wants the girls to have the very best experience during every single session. It’s important for Amy that the girls not only have fun and make new friends, but that they learn how to be confident and empowered, and that the lessons taught are those that will stay with them for a lifetime. Amy is a selfless volunteer, a great role model for our young participants, and one of the most positive women we know! We are so proud, and thankful to United Way of Greater Yankton, to be able to recognize Amy and say thank you for all she has done to serve the girls in the Yankton community through her involvement.”
We asked Amy Reyes to share more about her volunteer efforts.
I first moved to Yankton as a freshman at Mount Marty College in 2002. Upon finishing my degree in 2006, my husband and I moved around South Dakota a bit. We were overjoyed to return to this wonderful community in 2014.
I began volunteering at a very early age as my parents were both very involved in volunteerism and made volunteering a family activity. As a high school student, I was able to grow as a volunteer through participation in groups such as Christian Leadership and National Honor Society. I believe that when you help others, you're giving a gift to not only those you serve, but also to yourself. It is incredibly rewarding to know that in some small way, I'm making the world a better place through my volunteer service.
I serve as a volunteer coach for Girls on the Run, as a board member for Yankton Area Mental Wellness, Inc., as a Disaster Mental Health volunteer for the American Red Cross, and as President for the Lewis and Clark Chapter of the South Dakota Counseling Association. During my time as advisor for YHS National Honor Society, I had the opportunity to help with many wonderful service projects such as our Homeless Awareness Night, serving at the Banquet, hosting books drives for the Big Red Bookshelf, packing for Sack Pack, and volunteering at the Step Forward to Prevent Suicide Walk.
Volunteering is a great way to connect with others and meet so many amazing people. Sometimes we all fall into the trap of believing we're just little islands operating independently of others. We forget how deeply interconnected we all are as human beings. Volunteerism is great for reminding us of our shared humanity and allowing us the opportunity to truly experience this interconnectedness. Volunteering truly brings out the best in both me and others.
My best volunteer experiences have been all my seasons coaching Girls on the Run. I am so passionate about the GOTR mission and have witnessed firsthand how lifechanging this program can be for participants, volunteer coaches, and the community as a whole. I love watching the growth that occurs within individual girls and as a team throughout the season. I have no words to even describe the energy and emotion that is present when all our girls cross that finish line at a pace that's just right for them. And then taking this a step further and watching as the girls come to that realization that those same skills they used to achieve this 5K goal can be applied to all other areas in their lives. WOW!
I have always loved Howard Thurman’s quote, “Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” That is the advice I would give to others about volunteering. Take the time to discover your passion and then find a volunteer opportunity that aligns with that passion. Each one of us has incredible power and potential to positively impact our world in ways both big and small. The world is waiting for the gift which is YOU!
For more information on local volunteer opportunities, or to nominate a Volunteer of the Month, please visit www.yanktonunitedway.org/volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (605)665-6766.