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Youth Leadership Council 2023-24 The 50 YLC students contributed a total of 2,114.25 hours, an average of 42.385 hours per member. Council members also volunteered across the four programs at The Storehouse, serving in the clothing closet, neighbor care, and education programs on their own accord outside of scheduled service days.

The 50-member group, representing 20 different North Texas high schools, reflects on year of service and leadership development, while honoring seniors, group leaders, and top achievers 

Founded in 2021, the Youth Leadership Council (YLC) of The Storehouse Community Center was established to provide high school leadership experience while fulfilling the mission of The Storehouse to feed, clothe, and care as neighbors in one community. As the 50 members of the 2023-24 council wrapped up the council’s third year, the group reflected on their accomplishments, recognizing their leaders, and honoring their seniors, along with this year’s three recipients of the David A. Huerta Student Volunteer Award* for the most hours of service: Nina Zucconi, 106 volunteer hours (junior, Plano West Senior High School); Theresa  Wootton, 90.25 volunteer hours (senior, John Paul II High School); and Sarah Cho, 71.5 volunteer hours (junior, Allen High School).

Midway through the academic year, this year’s council was faced with an unexpected scheduling change as The Storehouse shifted to an appointment system for food pantry distribution. Originally meeting only on Saturdays, the group had planned the year volunteering during the morning food distribution, followed by a council meeting eight Saturdays a month. When The Storehouse shifted its schedule, eliminating Saturday distributions, the group had to restructure its plans. The solution involved keeping Saturday mornings for meetings and selecting one of three weekday evenings for the group to volunteer – a potential challenge with high school schedules.

“A big part of leadership is learning to lead through change, especially unexpected change,” said Ben Skye, director of communications and culture and YLC advisor at The Storehouse. “Due to major changes in our food pantry service schedule, our leadership team had to develop a change management plan for the council going into 2024. It was inspiring to see how they came together and got the job done with teamwork and leadership. They learned a powerful lesson this year: even when you do your very best planning, circumstances outside of your control can change and you must adapt.”

The 50 YLC students contributed a total of 2,114.25 hours, an average of 42.385 hours per member. Council members also volunteered across the four programs at The Storehouse, serving in the clothing closet, neighbor care, and education programs on their own accord outside of scheduled service days. 

This year, council members also explored their personal leadership styles using the 16 Personalities report to facilitate discussions about practicing leadership across various areas in life. 

"I really never thought that I could be a good leader,” said Theresa Wootton, a YLC squad leader. “I’m not typically extroverted or charismatic, and I’m not super positive. But I found that I didn’t have to try to be something I wasn’t to contribute and to lead. I've been so grateful to be part of such a diverse leadership team, not for just one, but two years.”

Additionally, sisters Leah Devasia and Tessa Devasia, a senior and a sophomore, respectively, at John Paul II High School, were recognized for achieving 100 percent attendance by participating in all required YLC activities, including a meet and greet, orientation, a summer volunteer session, a midweek food bagging and planning session, eight service days, and eight YLC meetings.

“My experience volunteering at The Storehouse showed me how much time, effort, and communication goes into running an efficient organization,” said Leah Devasia, senior, John Paul II High School. “I hope to handle my responsibilities as well as The Storehouse staff in college and in my future career!”

Fourteen seniors were recognized for their year of service: Lakshmi Aravindan, Charlotte Blank, Leah Devasia, Matthew Farrell, Justin Goodlin, Katherine Happe, Lauren Latham, Adil Miah, Lupe Oloyede, Ajay Raghavan, Henry Rutnam, Ally Troxler, Theresa Wootton, and Shirley Xinyi Yang.

Additionally, five squad leaders, Charlotte Blank, Leah Devasia, Katherine Happe, Ajay Raghavan, and Theresa Wootton, along with five assistant squad leaders, Ava Henry, Carter Jacob, Blair Neumayer, Ally Troxler, and Henry Troxler, were recognized for their efforts in helping plan and execute the YLC's objectives and activities this past year.

The 2023-24 YLC members represented the following 20 high schools: Allen High School, Frisco High School, Frisco Memorial High School, Harmony Science Academy, Hebron High School, Jasper High School, JJ Pearce High School, Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas, John Paul II High School, Leadership Prep School – Frisco, Lebanon Trail High School, McKinney Boyd High School, Plano East Senior High School, Plano West Senior High School, Prestonwood Christian Academy, Prince of Peace Christian School, Rick Reedy High School, Shepton High School, The Episcopal School of Dallas, and Wakeland High School.

"This is my second year serving as advisor for the council, and I am so proud to see how the program continues to innovate and grow,” added Skye. “Our student leaders play a major role in strategizing and implementing plans for the year while cultivating an inclusive, diverse, and supportive environment for their peers to interact and serve their community. One of my favorite points of feedback this year was from a student who shared how he always looks forward to coming to the YLC. He shared that even when it was a bad week at school, YLC was always an uplifting place to be!”

The YLC roster is complete for the 2024-25 year, but all high schoolers are invited to sign up and volunteer at The Storehouse. To volunteer, visit www.thestorehousecc.org/volunteer-sign-up.  To learn more about the YLC, visit www.thestorehousecc.org/ylc

“We created the YLC to provide students an opportunity to serve our neighbors while developing life and leadership skills,” said Candace Winslow, CEO, The Storehouse Community Center. “Under the leadership of Ben Skye, our director of communications and culture, the YLC has developed into so much more. Students are not only learning more about themselves, but they are also seeing that they can create positive change in the world. We are beyond grateful for their many hours of service and the love and care they have shown to our neighbors.”

 

*DAVID A. HUERTA, 21, the award’s namesake, began volunteering at The Storehouse at age 14 after he and his family arrived in Plano as immigrants from Venezuela. He volunteered weekly, helped found the YLC, and is currently a student at the University of Texas at Dallas, majoring in finance. He is a YLC advisor and works part time with The Storehouse team.

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The Storehouse Community Center (formerly The Storehouse of Collin County), is a nonprofit founded in 2009 that provides short-term help and long-term transformation to residents in North Texas through a pathway of programs. Seven Loaves Food Pantry serves around 5,000 families each month; Joseph’s Coat Clothing Closet provides clothing at no cost; Project Hope Neighbor Care offers case management and resource referral; and The Academy Education Program provides free and reduced-cost classes to assist with language, job, and life skills development. During its previous fiscal year, The Storehouse served 149,064 unduplicated neighbors with the support of more than 2,000 volunteers. In August 2023, the North Texas Food Bank honored The Storehouse with the Hope for Tomorrow Award, and in September 2023, The Storehouse was named a Dallas Morning News Charity. Visit www.thestorehousecc.org. The Storehouse EIN: 27-1883333

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