By Gina Guerreso
When thinking about how your organization can tap into and engage a younger participant base, the leaders who will ultimately influence these young philanthropists are a key component.
The past couple of weeks, we’ve discussed the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® Youth Corps program and met some of the amazing young adults who are Youth Corps alum turned Komen 3-Day walkers. Now, let’s meet two of the on-event leaders who support the kids in their philanthropic journey year after year.
Pam Lucken is a 3-Day® walker who has also captained the Youth Corps for many years. A breast cancer survivor herself, Pam says, “I wanted to do more to give back than to just fundraise. I felt like I could make a greater difference if I was fundraising AND teaching young people how to have a great time raising money and serving others.” As their leader, she says, “It’s my job to tend to their needs, keep them engaged, and encourage them to work hard.”
Pam was proud to note (as she should be) that 11 Youth Corps alumni are walking this year—some for their third time! Pam believes that leading by example is key, so if children see the adults in their lives giving of their time, the kids are more likely to do the same. Stephanie Hartman has been a Youth Corps captain since 2011 and, like Pam, she is also a 3-Day walker. She lost her mom to breast cancer at just two years old and says, “Growing up, I didn’t have access to a support group or other youth that had been through similar situations as I had. When I heard about the Youth Corps, I knew immediately that I wanted to be involved. I do the 3-Day so no child has to grow up without a mom. Leading the Youth Corps combines two of my greatest passions: working with kids to help give them a better and brighter future, and working to help end breast cancer.”
From the moment her Youth Corps team is selected, Stephanie works diligently to engage and inspire them. She does this by staying in constant contact with them and organizing various activities which foster an environment of family and support. Many Youth Corps members have been directly affected by breast cancer at a young age, just like Stephanie was, so bonding with them and keeping consistent communication is crucial to helping them feel supported and connected to their Youth Corps team. It has paid off, as there are 20 Youth Corps alumni from Stephanie’s team walking in a 2016 3-Day event. Stephanie believes that, “The type of support group that forms on the 3-Day event is something that doesn’t occur naturally. Through the Youth Corps, the kids become more passionate about the cause. They develop deep friendships with other kids who have experienced situations similar to theirs. This sense of community and passion ignites their determination to train and fundraise to participate in the 3-Day year after year.”
So that brings us back to the question, how are you involving kids and young adults as you look toward the future of your organization? The Susan G. Komen 3-Day Youth Corps is a solid example of how this can work well. The kids feel inspired and their leaders cultivate a community for these young people to grow and continue giving back. They could be your future participants and top fundraisers so it’s worth putting some time and thought into how to engage and support them from the start.
We’ll leave you with some great advice from Youth Corps Captain Pam on how to tap into a younger participant base: “Make them feel like a family. Make kids feel like they are important and making a huge difference. It becomes natural for them to want to spend time making a difference.”
Gina is going into her 13th event season with the Susan G. Komen 3-Day, having worked in Arizona, Chicago and now Michigan. She is honored to work with the Crew and Volunteers of the Michigan 3-Day. When not wearing her Event 360 hat, she loves spending time with her family, especially her two little ones, and wishes for summer all year round.