Volunteer Education on Overcoming Challenges Working With At-Risk Youth


Left to right: Volunteers, Hope Palladino of GOAL and Hannah Beswick of Reading Rangers with Lew Zuchman of SCAN – NY.

Volunteering as a New York Junior League mentor is a wonderful way to provide both life guidance and career exploration for youth that may be at risk of social, economic, or academic failure. Programs like SCAN and GOAL provide an opportunity for our youth to empower themselves by building confidence through various development programs. Working with at-risk youth can present its own set of challenges. Many of these youths have experienced a life filled with violence and homelessness, potentially making it difficult for them to trust new people. While the relationship building may be a slow process, the rewards are paramount.

During the recent Volunteer Education and Training (VET) event, Overcoming Challenges Working with At-Risk Youth, NYJL volunteers had the opportunity to meet and speak with Lew Zuchman, Executive Director of Supportive Children’s Advocacy Network (SCAN) New York for 31 Years, Hannah Beswick of Reading Rangers, and Hope Palladino, Treasurer of Girls Opportunity Advancement & Leadership (GOAL).


Left to right: Volunteer, Hope Palladino, Lew Zuchman (SCAN – NY) and Volunteer, Hannah Beswick

Over the course of the evening, attendees learned about SCAN’s history and the work they do in the community. Founded in 1977, SCAN is a non-profit youth and family service organization that provides a variety of integrated supports to the highest risk children and families of East Harlem and the South Bronx. SCAN currently serves over 7,000 children and teens, as well as, 1,000 adults and families each year at 23 program sites. It is currently the largest youth provider in East Harlem and South Bronx

In addition, Hope Palladino discussed GOAL work alongside Union Settlement Association to empower at-risk young women to explore higher education opportunities, including college and vocational education to delay pregnancy.

Panelists provided the below tips and techniques to help develop your capacity for skillful intervention, building a rapport, and understanding the complex difficulties children and families experience:

Be patient – Many of these at-risk youths have been hurt by people leaving time and time again. They may be suspicious of your motives as a volunteer. Be patient and allow the trust to develop naturally.

Go the extra mile – Arrive 15 minutes early or stay after an additional 15 minutes to spark a one on one conversation with a child that may not have felt comfortable speaking in the group atmosphere.

Be consistent – Mentoring and volunteering is a commitment. The best way to establish trust is to enable a sense of dependability. The encouragement and motivation you give will be better received by the youths if they feel as if they can depend on you to be present on a consistent basis.

Interested in improving communities through the effective action and learning more about volunteering with the New York Junior League? Join us for an upcoming new volunteer orientation!

Three Things I Discovered from Participating in Nonprofit Board Clearinghouse

You may have asked yourself, over the course of your volunteer membership at the New York Junior League, is the Nonprofit Board Clearinghouse course for you, a friend, a community partner or a fellow board member? What does it entail? What is it like?

In the Spring 2015, I signed up for the accelerated one-day course and I wanted to offer my first hand NPBC experience. My name is Danielle Krause. This is my seventh year in the New York Junior League and currently, I am a sustainer.

To start – What is the Nonprofit Board Clearinghouse (NPBC)? Excellent question! Twice a year, the New York Junior League hosts the NPBC, a leadership-based course that both trains participants to serve as competent and confident board members as well as further develop their own leadership skills within the NYJL.

Below are three things I discovered from NPBC and why you should consider registering for the course.

A Brand New Perspective
I had considered taking the course for a few years before signing up. I had wanted to take time to understand the type of volunteer work and committee I wanted to serve on within the NYJL before registering for NPBC. Additionally, I wanted to evaluate if joining a nonprofit board was the best decision for me.

Once I decided I wanted to take more of a leadership direction within my volunteer work life, I signed up for the accelerated course.  

After arriving that spring Saturday morning and settling in, I had a chance to meet many different NYJL volunteers from a wide variety of committees, work and volunteering backgrounds. Each person had a different experience and perspective on why they wanted to develop their leadership skills and continue their work within the nonprofit space, which I found extremely inspiring.  

Functions of a Board Role
Once the accelerated course started, I quickly realized how many functions, areas and responsibilities fall under a board role within a nonprofit board of directors.  The NPBC agenda delved into topics including: general roles and duties of being a part of a board, the responsibilities of the financial and legal policies, and developing strategic plans as well honing leadership skills, needed to effectively sit on board.  

It is extremely important to understand the gravity of keeping the mission and objective of the nonprofit organization in complete mind as you conduct the day-to-day business on board.  Each board member has this responsibility to the nonprofit of which they serve.

The NPBC training will give you the guidance and education to understand and review these areas whether you decide to pursue a board position outside the league or continue to develop your leadership path within the NYJL.  

Alumni Networking
One of the greatest assets of the NPBC course is the end of session networking event.  This event is hosted as a career day style event to meet-and-greet with a number of nonprofit organizations who are recruiting candidates for their boards.  

Did you know?  That once you are a graduate of the course, at any time, you will have access to connect with the NPBC’s network of over 90 nonprofit organizations and you can continue to attend all the networking events as alumni at any time in the future?  It’s an amazing benefit of being a graduate of the program!

So, how did my experience end up after taking the course?  After attending the post-course networking event and meeting a few different nonprofit organizations, I decided to join the West Side YMCA board this past fall and have continued to serve as a volunteer and continue my leadership growth at the NYJL.  

The NPBC offers Fall and Spring courses and there is still limited space available in the Spring 2018 accelerated course, which will be taking place this Saturday, April 28. Hope you find the program as meaningful and memorable as I did! Interested in finding out more details, email questions to npbc@nyjl.org.

Becoming Future NYJL Leaders

On a recent Saturday, the New York Junior League hosted Leadership Day – a day filled with learning, empowerment and networking. Built upon the NYJL’s mission of training the next generation of leaders, Leadership Day brings together volunteers who have been identified as “up and coming” leaders and provides them the opportunity to cultivate their talents and hear from current and past NYJL leaders.

The day began with training session, “Leaning into Leadership” led by Laura Schwartz, Founder & CEO of i² Leadership. During the session, she covered different styles of leadership – action, empathic, vision and analytic – provided insights on how volunteers can draw on their strengths in order realize their full potential and become leaders in their community.

Morning session speaker Laura Schwartz of i² Leadership addressing styles and approaches to leadership in “Leaning in to Leadership.”

After lunch, current president Suzanne Manning along with past presidents Mary Ellen Fahs (1970-1972), Melissa Lewis Bernstein (1992-1994), Lisa Hathaway Stella (2010-2012) and Fiona Grant Small (2012-2014), discussed challenges and successes they experienced during their leadership terms. Despite challenges, past presidents were amazed by politicians, community leaders and celebrities and who were equally excited to work with the NYJL.

Panel of past NYJL presidents: Melissa Lewis Bernstein, Fiona Grant Small and Lisa Hathaway Stella discussing challenges and successes of leading the biggest Junior League in the United States.

During the afternoon, keynote speaker J. Kelly Hoey, author of Build Your Dream Network spoke about the need for personal networks and why they essential in reaching leadership potential. She assigned the following homework to the room of leaders:

  • Be consistent by doing what you love – it becomes your “brand.”
  • Google your name because your (public) reputation precedes you.
  • Use your peer network, including the people in this Harriman room, as your most accessible resource.
  • Update your NYJL resume without fear of discussing your proudest achievements.

Keynote speaker J. Kelly Hoey discusses developing leadership potential.

The day was an inspirational exercise and reminder to consider your own leadership potential with the NYJL, the community and in your personal lives.

Are you looking for an opportunity where you can give back and continue to develop your knowledge and skills? Are you interested in becoming a future leader in your community and share your strength with others?  The NYJL is the place for you! Check out a new volunteer orientation to learn more about becoming a volunteer and current volunteers can learn more about leadership development opportunities on the calendar of events.

Volunteer Education & Training Invests in Future NYJL Leaders

Training future leaders is a key aspect of the New York Junior League’s mission; we foster a supportive and motivating environment that enables continuous learning, encourages mentoring and develops future leaders. If you are looking for a way to give back to the NYC community while also learning how to be a better leader, the NYJL is the place for you!


The Training & Volunteer Development Councils host training sessions for our volunteers to learn about leadership roles within the League. At a recent event, Volunteer Development Council Head Shannon Whitt and Executive Vice President Charlene Chuang welcomed the volunteers before kicking off a panel moderated by Allison Davis O’Keefe, Affiliations Council Head.

This training focused on how the NYJL fosters and develops women into future leaders within the communities they serve and in business roles. The five-person panel was comprised of Mallory Morgan (Golden Tree Co-Chair), Katie Cook (Child Health & Welfare Council Head), Cristina Hagglund (Strategic Oversight & Impact Co-Chair), Ashley Astolfi (Placement Co-Chair) and Carrie Organisciak (Building Blocks Co-Chair).

The panelists discussed the building blocks of effective leadership from communication skills to team building to understanding problem-solving tactics to manage both their committee member’s expectations and their stakeholders.  NYJL leaders work with both internal and external partners and are able to put their leadership skills to work every day.

Interested in learning more about volunteering with the New York Junior League?  Join us for an upcoming new volunteer orientation!

Volunteer Education & Training Encourages Volunteers to Heart Their Heart

As our community partners and volunteers focus on the well being of others, there is a continued need to focus on individual health. Recently, the NYJL’s Volunteer Education & Training (VET) committee featured an evening with Dr. Rachel Marie Bond, to make sure that NYJL volunteers are educated about making smart heart health decisions in their daily lives.

VET strives to highlight topics that can impact the volunteer experience, and our health impacts everything we do. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women, and we make a point to educate NYJL volunteers about different aspects of heart health every year during American Heart Month. As volunteers, we see the value in being a healthy, active resource in the community and the need to put ourselves first in order to help others.

Dr. Bond is currently Associate Director of the Women’s Heart Health Program at Northwell Health Lenox Hill Hospital and Assistant Professor of Cardiology at Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine. She has a vested interest in the community and making sure women are mindful of their health and wellbeing. During the training session, she covered the differences between heart health in men and women, risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD), and how to prevent CVD.

Volunteers learned that more women die of heart disease than all forms of cancer. According to Dr. Bond and the American Heart Association, a woman dies of heart disease every 80 seconds and 90% of women have at least one risk factor.

According to Dr. Bond, heart disease can present differently in women — symptoms can occur without showing evidence of a blocked artery, since the disease tends to diffuse to smaller blood vessels. In addition, a third of women have atypical symptoms.

Dr. Bond highlighted that while the traditional symptom for a heart attack is chest pain, there are several specific symptoms that women need to keep in mind. These include chest pain, discomfort, pressure or squeezing (like there’s a ton of weight on your chest), upper body pain (or discomfort in one or both arms, back, shoulder, neck, jaw or upper part of the stomach), shortness of breath, extreme fatigue, breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea and lightheadedness or sudden dizziness

Looking for ways to lower your risk for heart disease? The American Heart Association has identified seven lifestyle recommendations in order to prevent heart disease. They include stop smoking (it’s never too late for your body to start repairing!), be physically active (150 minutes of moderate activity a week or 75 minutes vigorous activity and strength training twice a week), eat a heart healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight and keep your BMI under 25, keep a healthy blood sugar level, keep cholesterol levels under control, and maintain a healthy blood pressure.

Looking for an opportunity to be both physically active and active in the community? Be sure to sign up for one of the upcoming PIP Park Days. Join fellow volunteers at Corlears Hook Park on the Lower East Side, where you can help paint, plant and spruce up the park.