In 1998, I asked Sara where she would like to go for a high school graduation trip, and the rest of the story is Youthlinc history.

We went to Kenya that summer, connected with people in an underdeveloped country, and had our eyes opened to the abject poverty that exists in this world. Because Sara and her high school friends had volunteered with Salt Lake’s homeless for two years, we made connections between local and international service. The connection we made was the difference young people can make if they become relied upon volunteers. That was the seed of Youthlinc that has grown over the past 13 years to become the Service Year that has touched so many lives in Utah, Kenya, Mexico, Peru, Thailand, Cambodia… and this year, Guatemala.

So I have – we all have — a lot to thank Sara for. Not only was she critical to the idea of Youthlinc, she has been critical to its development as a financially stable, thriving, and eminently accountable non-profit organization.

If my daughter was not an accounting major in college, when Youthlinc began, I don’t know who would have done the books for the fledgling non-profit – and done them for free. If she had not gone on to become a CPA, and now a financial analyst, I don’t know who would have made sure we did things exactly the right way, so professionally. Now when we are turning over our books to an accounting firm, we get accolades for our record keeping system and financial accountability.

I am an ‘accidental’ non-profit manager. People who start a non-profit have no idea how much work they are getting themselves into. There is no question in my mind that Youthlinc would not have survived if Sara was not somehow fortuitously my daughter – right there—and willing to donate her time.

Youthlinc started with 20 participants. It’s grown slowly but steadily. We have more than 220 people participate in our Service Year now. We’ve added the Young Humanitarian Award, the Utah Local Service Directory, and the Real Life in SLC teen refugee mentoring program.

Sara’s life has grown steadily as well. She lives in Sacramento with her husband, Steve, and two daughters: Ruby who will be five, and Gwen who is 15 months old. She has a more than full time job as a financial analyst for Teichert, the largest and oldest commercial construction firm in northern California. Youthlinc is so close to her heart, but after 12 years as Treasurer and our accountant, she just can’t do a part-time job in addition to all of her responsibilities.

It’s a bittersweet parting of our professional lives for me. I’ve loved working with her. I can’t thank her enough for her patience, guidance, and incredible effort on behalf of the Organization we created together. But Youthlinc will always have her gifts to build on, and fortunately there are so many others now ready to put a shoulder to the wheel.

Sara, thank you, for your inimitable spirit, invaluable expertise, and herculean efforts that started and sustained the movement that is Youthlinc.

— Judy Zone, Youthlinc Executive Director and very proud mother.

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