Fourteen high school students serve over 150 hours at local non-profit organizations

PASO ROBLES — Aspiring philanthropists and community advocates, the MUST! Charities Youth Board not only researched organizations that are providing services to those in need; but also sought out volunteer opportunities to see for themselves what the front line is like. Fourteen area high school students, who serve on the Youth Board, volunteered over 150 hours at SLO Food Bank, Camino Scholars by People’s Self-Help Housing, and Boys and Girls Club. 

Youth Board Volunteering at SLO Food Bank. Contributed Photo

“Teens are so easily discounted, but man, they are a powerful force! They have huge hearts and genuinely want to help people but maybe don’t know how,” says Kacie Pechota, Youth Board Coordinator. “It’s hard to see the need or make an impact when you’re so far removed from the issues, but once you know better, you do better.”

MUST! Charities Youth Board is a group of local high school students making a positive difference through collaboration and dedication to learning about social needs, organizations serving those needs, and their responsibility to make a difference for those less fortunate.

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“Few programs are as inspiring and engaging as MUST! Charities’ Youth Board,” says Garret Olson, CEO of SLO Food Bank. “Through this program, MUST! is capturing and developing the hearts and minds of our future generation of compassionate leaders.”

Through their own vetting process and drawn from their experience volunteering, the Youth Board is now embarking on a fundraising campaign to bring educational field trips this summer to children who would otherwise not have the opportunity. 

Thanks to local philanthropist Don Witmer, the first $2,500 the Youth Board raises will be matched by him, illustrating the power of collective giving. Not only is he matching their donation, but he championed for the Youth Board to be expanded this year and sponsored program.