Youthlinc started in 1999, when Founder Judy Zone was a secondary school teacher. She has been asked to tell the story so many times, we’ve printed here:
“When my daughter graduated from high school, she knew she came into a few thousand dollars that I had put aside for her since she was born. She said the nicest thing to me when I asked her what she wanted to use the money for. She said she would like to take a trip with me! She wanted to go on safari, which seriously was not anything that had ever crossed my mind.
Because it is so expensive to travel to Africa, we went with a Kenyan owned safari company, and fortunately got to spend as much time with the people as with the animals. Because it was a mother-daughter trip, we had a lot of time to process the information. Kenyans speak English, so there was not a communication barrier to understanding a completely different culture.
My daughter, Sara, had always been a service minded person. She and her friends volunteered every Sunday morning through their last two years in high school feeding the homeless under the viaduct in Salt Lake City.
As a secondary and college teacher, it was fascinating to me during our trip to see a young person make the connections between local needs and international needs. People in Kenya went hungry- and no one was feeding them under the viaduct. There was no free clinic to go to when they were sick. But the Kenyans were so happy — just to be alive each day. It was a remarkably lesson my daughter learned, and a remarkably eye-opening experience for both us.
When we returned, I was simply obsessed with figuring out a way that other young people could see the connection between local and international service. Slowly over the next year, the idea for the Youthlinc Service Year emerged. Because I am a lifetime educator, with M.Ed and other graduate work in education, the Service Year would always have a curriculum based in research in what works to engage students, create leaders, and lifetime humanitarians.”