Our 2013 Youthlinc Lifetime Humanitarian is Britnie Powell. Though we usually honor individuals with a few more gray hairs, this relatively young woman has distinguished herself through more service, locally and internationally, than most people twice her age could hope to accomplish.

In Cambodia as Team Leader

Because she came from a very service minded family, Britnie has been aware of and actively engaged in helping others since childhood. In high school, Britnie joined joined the first ever Youthlinc team in 1999. After completing 100 hours of local service, mostly at Cottonwood Hospital, Britnie traveled with the team of just 16 students and 4 mentors to Samburu, Kenya. On this trip, we came to know her as a committed humanitarian and exceptionally hard worker, and as a very funny person. She kept the team in stitches, reciting entire movie scripts, horsing around with the Kenyan children even those she was helping at a meager medical clinic. She was the ‘Patch Adams’ of the group, making even the most ill child smile with her shenanigans.

The year after her Youthlinc Service Year, she traveled back to Kenya with another ‘Youthlinc First Year’ student to work in a classroom for kids with disabilities. There she met Caroline, who became a cause for these two young Utahns. Caroline was born with Treacher Collins Syndrome, a birth defect that causes facial disfiguration, and a lack of an ear canal. Though Caroline’s inner ear functioned, she lacks an outer ear, so hearing is difficult. Britnie entered the Miss Murray, Utah competition to raise awareness of Caroline’s condition, and raise funds for a special hearing aid for the child. In 2006, another Youthlinc team delivered this hearing aid to Caroline in Kenya.

Britnie has also participated in an international service trip to Guatemala with another Organization, and she traveled to China to teach English for three months.
There has never been a year since 1999 when Britnie has not volunteered with Youthlinc. She has done student presentations, been part of our Benefit committees, and since 2006, she has served as a team leader to Thailand, Kenya, Cambodia, Peru and is the current Team Leader for our Vietnam Team. This year she will be bringing her baby with her to Vietnam, introducing him to serve at even a younger age than she was involved!

Britnie with her new son, Atticus

Britnie’s influence on the Youthlinc Service Year curriculum has been consistent and wide ranging. She has been a mentor for many new team leaders, has been instrumental in molding our committee structure, our microenterprise program, our Team Leader Binders. She has undertaken site visits in Southeast Asia, a critical part of assuring the productivity and safety of our teams. Judy Zone, the Youthlinc Founder, readily admits that, outside of herself, there is only one person who has done more to shape Youthlinc: Britnie Powell.

Locally, Britnie has – through the course of her life – volunteered with the Boys and Girls Club, Cottonwood Hospital, a battered women’s shelter, tutored ESL students, made meals for the homeless, and has been involved in Sub-4-Santa for many years. In 2005, as Britnie was finishing her undergraduate degree, she was the very first Youthlinc Utah Young Humanitarian.

Britnie currently teaches 6th grade at Salt Lake Center for Science Education. Her tremendous emphasis on service learning has been featured in local newspapers, and her principal reports that she is a model for other teachers at the school. Britnie has her M.Ed. and has taught other teachers to teach not only content, but service as part of their curricula. She is the Service Learning Club adviser at SLCSE for years, inspiring students of all ages to give back to their communities. Her students are involved in a range of service activities: supporting a local care center for the elderly, environmental projects, organic gardening, helping the humane society, and they have even helped Youthlinc put together hygiene kits!

So it is with deep gratitude and respect for a lifetime of accomplishments that we honor Britnie with this Award. She has inspired hundreds, even thousands, of people on a path of service, awareness, and engagement. It is impossible to estimate all those who will be touched by her enthusiasm, heart, intelligence and passion for helping others throughout the rest of what we know will be her long and productive life.

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