The strategy behind the mission is "pretty straightforward," said Youthlinc executive director Judy Zone.
"At the beginning of every school year, we take applications from students in secondary, colleges and graduate schools who want to serve in their community and around the world," Zone said during an interview with The Park Record. "Once the students are accepted, they become a relied-upon volunteer at a service site in their own community and are required to put in between 60 and 100 hours during the school year."
The students also make a commitment to attend a monthly planning meeting at the main office in Salt Lake City.
"In these meetings, they are divided into teams of eight to 12 students, and are mentored by adult professionals to take leadership roles in what we do internationally," Zone said. "We work with small, impoverished villages in Kenya, Guatemala, Peru, Thailand and Cambodia and the students spend two weeks of their summer doing construction activities, where we build schools and medical clinics."
That's the main reason Youthlinc is holding a Wasatch Back student fundraiser at the Kimball Art Center on April 21.
The funds will create sponsorships for students who wish to participate in the Youthlinc program.
"Regardless of family income, every student involved in Youthlinc has to earn a sponsorship," Zone said. "That is what holds them accountable for all the work.
"Because no student can be accepted without a sponsor, we have to raise about $140,000 in sponsorship money for all the students who were accepted into the program this year," she said. "That roughly comes to $1,000 per child. We had more than 300 applications and could only accept 150."
The Park City fundraiser is raising money specifically for the Park-City area students, Zone said.
The event will feature emcee David Wintzer, a former Parkite and son of Charlie and Mary Wintzer, who went through the Youthlinc program as a student and later was an alumni leader.
"David started a business from his Youthlinc experience," Zone said. "He started a gluten-free banana-flower business."
Heber resident Jeff Daun will give a presentation about the importance of sponsorship.
"We'll also watch two short videos, one is a Youthlinc overview and the other is about students' experiences and how it changed their lives," Zone said. "We will also have a silent auction with unique items and art from around the world - Kenya, Guatemala, Thailand, Cambodia and Peru."
The night will also feature drinks and dinner donated by Good Karma.
"Then we do a sponsorship appeal and then we're done," Zone said.
In the past, three Rotary Clubs -the Park City, Park City Sunrise and Heber Valley - handled sponsorships for Park City-area students.
"Since the economy got worse, they had less money in their budget and it became harder for them to sponsor four or five kids," Zone said. "So, we decided to supplement with fundraisers like this."
Ten Park City High School students - Nicole Falten, Jennifer Librizzi, Jessica Kern, Kaila Balch, Jason Barth, Madison Hubbard, Breanna Murrin, Sierra Schlag, Jillian Queri and Caroline Coleman and one South Summit student, Hannah Morrison - were accepted into the program.
"The kids sign up because they want to travel internationally, and these kids work their tails off," Zone said. "In the summer, they'll go to these countries and do community health and educational initiatives. Everyone teaches English and they'll do a broad range of vocational training - everything from small-engine repair, baking, sewing, gardening and cultural exchange.
"We have a micro-enterprise committee on each team, and do micro loans, except in Thailand, where it's illegal to do loans," she said. "But basically, if you can name it, they'll do it."
To prepare for the summer trips, the students work throughout the school year with their country's coordinators, which are mostly Rotary Clubs and other nonprofit organizations, Zone said.
"So, it's not like those organizations who meet for the first time at an airport and go do some poverty tourism," she explained. "While some of the students struggle with the hours and requirements, they all get into what we're doing and learn how important it is for them to volunteer.
"These intense local and international service experiences has a profound impact on these young lives," Zone said. "Every three years we survey our alumni, which number about 1,200 people, and find that most of them are still involved in service and volunteering. Some, like David, have even set up their own organizations."
Youthlinc will hold a fundraiser on Saturday, April 21 at the Kimball Art Center, 638 Park Ave., beginning at 5 p.m. Admission is $30 per person and the price includes dinner and drinks. RSVP by emailing email@example.com or calling (801) 467-4417.