Monday, May 10, 2010

Meet our Youth Services Coordinator: AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer, Kara Taggart

Working with youth is not always easy, but Kara Taggart has a knack for teaching, and mentoring the youth volunteers at the Red Cross. Kara is a Be Ready Utah AmeriCorps VISTA member placed at the Red Cross as the Statewide Youth Programs Coordinator. With a focus on youth development and engaging young volunteers to help serve the mission of the Red Cross, Kara has a lot on her plate.

Her background in volunteering with youth began when she became a volunteer mentor and counselor for a young adult youth group and a substitute teacher for students in K-12 grades. Upon graduating from the University of Utah in 2008 she stumbled upon the VISTA position at the Red Cross. Not knowing what VISTA was, she did her research, applied, and was accepted as the youth coordinator.

Kara understands the need for youth to get involved in volunteering. “The earlier you get them involved with volunteering, the more likely they are to volunteer in the future, and kids are eager for it,” Kara said; and they certainly are.

In the past nine months Kara has started the Babysitting Boot Camp program and has put on three successful camps. At camp, youth are certified in Babysitting, Child/Infant CPR, Standard First Aid, and Dog & Cat First Aid. Kara also spends time in the community, at schools, churches, and scout troop meetings, teaching kids about preparedness and giving them the confidence they need to respond to emergencies. She works with Washington Elementary and Bryant Middle School teaching CPR/First Aid Classes to the students. Recently she helped the students at Washington Elementary update their 72-hour Kits. Kara has also helped three Eagle Scouts receive their Eagle awards, passed out Spanish language preparedness information to schools, and helped stock comfort kits for those affected by disasters here in Utah. One of Kara’s biggest projects is to organize a Youth Leadership Development Camp that will take place this June for youth to achieve confidence as leaders in their community.

Kara recognizes the amazing passion and excitement for service that the youth have. “There is a big difference working with youth than with adults, their eyes are just on fire,” Kara said, “The fire for service in the eyes of the youth can only be ignited by engaging them, pushing them, and giving them the confidence that they need.” Kara’s caring nature serves her well working with youth on the wide variety of Red Cross projects.

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