Youth Helping Youth- Horizons For Homeless Children

Youth Helping Youth: The Next Generation of Philanthropy

Horizons’ Young Professionals Network is a group of volunteers made up of dynamic individuals early in their careers employed across a variety of industries, with a common passion for making a difference in the lives of young homeless children. The Young Professionals Network works to raise Horizons’ visibility and awareness about youth homelessness in the community by hosting fundraising events and sharing Horizons’ mission with their professional network and beyond. The committee and participants are as motivated to have fun as they are to network with other like-minded professionals.

Jared Robichaud, an associate in Investor Relations at Charlesbank Capital Partners, is a volunteer and one of three co-chairs in the Young Professionals Network. Jared shared with us how he got involved with Horizons and what being part of the young professionals network has meant to him personally and professionally.

“About 2 years ago I was invited to Horizons’ Women’s Breakfast with someone from work and was instantly inspired by Horizons and its mission. I fell in love with the cause and made the decision then that I could find 2 hours a week to dedicate to being a PAL,” said Jared of his start at Horizons.

Jared began his volunteer experience as a PAL at St. Ambrose in Dorchester, then moved to a shelter in Charlestown. PALs, also known as Playspace Activity Leaders, staff Horizons’ more than 90 in-shelter Playspaces across the state, and are the largest component of Horizons’ volunteer corps. After spending a few months as a PAL he decided quickly that he wanted to increase his involvement. Jared joined the Young Professionals Network and soon found himself in a leadership role.

“It feels good to give back, especially with children who are less fortunate than I was growing up,” said Jared reflecting on how Horizons has affected him personally. “At such a young age they can’t help the situation they’re in. They need the chance to be kids, a chance Horizons offers. ”

Acknowledging his own age, Jared is 27, he believes giving back is an important principle to adopt early on, emphasizing that there are more ways to support non-profit organizations than solely large financial contributions.

“At a young age it’s hard to contribute financially but we have to remember that time is our biggest asset. Most of us do not have the responsibilities of a family yet, we can donate time to a good cause in lieu of a financial donation.”

“Additionally, young people that start by giving their time at a younger age will ultimately grow into the next generation of financial support systems for these charities. Especially with Horizons, I think it’s extremely important to continue building our network of young professional volunteers that will ultimately grow into the board members and financial supporters of tomorrow.”

The Young Professionals Network allows millennials to get directly involved with Horizons in a fun and meaningful way.

“The network makes charitable giving appealing to everyone- even those of us just at the beginning of our careers. Those not in the network can contribute a small amount by attending an event, or buying a raffle ticket. It is a great way to get involved with a charity before you’re able to make larger donations.”

Professionally, Jared shared how the network has affected his career growth.

“Being a part of this network forces you out of your comfort zone. Whether it is reaching out to vendors for raffle items, soliciting colleagues, or speaking publically at an event, there’s always an opportunity to be challenged by something new. The network is such an awesome group to learn from and you make such meaningful personal and professional connections, all while benefiting a good cause.”

Reflecting on the Young Professionals Network as a whole, Jared discussed the idea that millennials prefer to be directly involved with the non-profits they choose to support.

“Millennials like myself give differently,” said Jared. “We appreciate a hands-on approach that connects us to the mission we’re supporting. In the network we are not only able to share the mission with our own social networks, but we’re able to leverage those networks as well.”

When asked what he would say to other young people looking for opportunities to give back, Jared touched on the importance of finding the time and then prioritizing the commitment.

“Life gets busy but you can always find time to give back. Volunteering at Horizons’ is a very rewarding experience and you are going to learn from it,” said Jared. “Once you get involved with Horizons you get addicted to sharing the mission.”

This post was written by Rachel San Giacomo, a regular contributor to Horizons’ blog