Sixteen-year-old Lisa-Anne Marie Furgal is president and founder of the non-profit organization, YOUTH (Youth Out To Help) located in Pinellas County, FL, which she began in 1995 at age 13. YOUTH's goal is to educate kids up to age 18 on the importance of volunteerism and to encourage agencies to engage kids creatively and respectfully in service. Lisa's drive to serve started even before the young age of 13. From ages 8 through 11, she collected over 10,000 baby items and $2,500 for a local agency.
Lisa-Anne has spoken to and inspired hundreds of kids who were not sure how to volunteer. She provides phone counseling to kids who are confused about starting the volunteer process.
She produces the Youth Volunteer Opportunities Guide, which gives tips to kids on volunteering, and lists agencies in Pinellas County that accept youth volunteers. The booklet has been distributed to all 144 Pinellas County Schools and is available at public libraries and other agencies, reaching over 150,000 kids.
Lisa-Anne developed a series of programs to assist YOUTH in accomplishing its goals. The first, YOUTH In The Classroom, is a program where students complete a series of activities culminating in a food collection drive. Currently, 250 students are participating. Each time the program runs, hundreds of placemats are made and items are collected and donated to local agencies. In May 1997, YOUTH sponsored its first annual YOUTH Who Shine Award Ceremony. Four top young volunteer were honored at this dinner. YOUTH In The Community is their newest program. It is similar to the classroom program, but individual kids can complete this one, including those with disabilities. Lisa-Anne recently received a grant for $1,000 to continue the program. YOUTH In The Classroom and YOUTH In The Community are offered locally, regionally and soon, nationally.
Lisa-Anne spends 20 to 25 hours a week during the school year running YOUTH and organizing its estimated 100 young volunteers. During the summer, she spends up to 40 hours a week doing these tasks. She regularly works with the county school board and many agencies, speaking and providing materials to assist with their youth programs. The organization receives its funding through awards and grants that Lisa-Anne applies for and from donations by local businesses and organizations. She has raised more than $4,500 for the operation of YOUTH.
Several people are impacted by the existence of YOUTH. Kids benefit by learning about volunteering at a young age so that they can become life-long givers. Teachers benefit, because they can complete a program, provide recognition and training for their students without needing to do any of the planning. Area non-profit agencies benefit, because they receive young volunteers that have been trained on basic volunteer skills, while learning to improve the way they handle young volunteers. Nursing home residents benefit when they receive the placemats that YOUTH volunteers have made – they love them. Homeless, low-income, disabled and many other community members benefit because YOUTH has encouraged more kids to volunteer.