Youthlinc loves local service.  We ask our participants to engage with their community through service, we partner with Rotary Clubs who are known for their community service and we celebrate the Utah Young Humanitarian each year with a $5,000 college scholarship.  We know that it is important to serve others which is why Youthlinc’s flagship local service project Real Life Salt Lake City began four years ago.  

Real Life Salt Lake is a teen refugee mentoring program that pairs Salt Lake students with refugee students at the Hser Ner Moo Center in South Salt Lake.  The program is mutually beneficial for those involved.  Youthlinc students learn valuable leadership skills and how to interact with those who may be different from themselves while the refugee teens are able to enjoy the friendship of local teens while practicing for “real life” through a variety of activities, lessons and field trips.  

Real Life Salt Lake is run by Julia Rametta, Youthlinc’s Local Service Director and Megan Dolle, Real Life’s intern for 2013.  Real Life could not run without the dedication of Youthlinc volunteers however and these 4 Youthlinc students are an example of some of the amazing students participating with the Real Life Salt Lake Program for the 2013 Youthlinc Service Year.  They are all making a huge difference in the lives of the teens they have befriended and they are having a great time while doing it.     

Dylan Dresher 
“The majority of my local service this year has been dedicated to Real Life Salt Lake City. Real life is an awesome program in which refugee students get together after school and learn valuable life skills through fun, interactive activities and games. As a volunteer at Real Life, I help facilitate activities and help the teens. I have developed close connections with many of the Real Life kids. They are incredible individuals who always manage to brighten your day. I am very happy to be involved in such an amazing program, and at the same time, making a positive impact in my community.

Some of the activities that we have done so far are include making volcanoes, Holiday parties, playing basketball and soccer, making shirts, a valentines treat cook off, game days, manners day with ice cream, movie and popcorn day, origami, Jeopardy, dance parties, and many rounds of partner tag. With most of the days we try to incorporate a lesson that they can learn from the activities. All of the teens are so friendly and willing to participate. I have already made several special bonds with each of the kids and can’t wait to get to know them even better. This opportunity has made me want to serve for the rest of my life and I’ve realized that you don’t have to go across the world to serve, you can have an unforgettable experience right here in your own community.”

Matt Lehr

“I volunteer at Real Life Salt Lake City, and it is awesome. Real Life is a high energy, high fun environment with a hidden aspect of learning. At Real Life I act as a mentor for the teens that come after school. I help them with activities and we also just hang out. My most memorable moment is when we went rock climbing. When climbing we were all assigned a partner, mine was Sawbay and a girl who I didn’t know well yet. The girl was so frightened to climb the wall, to the point of tears. When everyone could finally encourage her to go on the wall, she loved it! She then wanted to try all the walls! It was so great to see her overcome her fear and try something new. Something I find really cool about the program is the hidden way it teaches the teens. Most of the time the teens don’t even know that they are learning something and then you will ask them a question and they will give you the answer. It’s really cool to see that the program has more than just a fun value to it.”

Brynn Peterson
“For the past few months I have been lucky enough to volunteer at Real Life Salt Lake City. It has been such a good experience getting away from my everyday life to help these refugee kids. I have learned so much from the short amount of time I’ve been there. It is so much fun learning about where the kids come from and the reason they are living in Utah. It is extremely eye opening working with the kids and teaching them things that they aren’t taught at home. I really don’t feel like I am volunteering; I feel like I am going to hang out with my new friends that I have met. I am looking forward to the many experiences we will have.  I have already learned so much about what it means to truly serve in my community and can’t wait to learn more.”

Emily Mecham

“For my main local service site I have been able to have the most amazing opportunity serving the refugees in Salt Lake through the Real Life Salt Lake program. The program creates a fun welcoming environment.  All of the refugees are from countries all around the world and can speak multiple languages. All of them can also speak very good English although we are always practicing it with them! Each day is different and exciting.” 

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