A new chapter of the nonprofit group Teen Volunteers in Action (TVIA) has Point Loma boys in grades 7-12 logging hours to make a difference in their communities.
Tracy Case, president of the TVIA Point Loma chapter (SD6) told Point Loma-OB Monthly that TVIA was launched in 2000 after moms in North County recognized the need for an organization that would allow parents to do community service with their teen sons, as there were already many philanthropic opps for parents and daughters.
“The eventual development of SD6,” she explained, “rose from the need to have more spots available in the organization, due to its limit of 30 teens per grade (180 teens per chapter).” She said when she tried to sign-up her then-sixth-grade son in SD4 where her older son is a member, she was told the chapter was already full. She was then asked to help launch the Point Loma Chapter. TVIA chapters welcome teens from across the County, regardless of where the chapter is based.
The mission statement reads: “TVIA is an organization of young men who, together with their families, are committed to developing community leaders through a structured program of volunteerism, philanthropy and personal development.”
Members of TVIA meet three times a year: a mandatory first meeting in September for parents and sons, then parent-only meetings in January and May (parents need only attend the January or May meeting) with rotated locations to be announced.
SD6 gets moving
In the past five months, the young men in SD6 have already worked at 100 events and completed more than 470 hours of service — despite the new chapter consisting only of boys in grades 7-9. Each volunteer is required to participate at a minimum of five events per school year, and attend three chapter meetings at the Thursday Club.
What’s the driving force behind so many dedicated teens spending their free time volunteering?
Case explained that the passions behind acts of service tend to develop organically.
“To be perfectly honest, it’s generally the parents forcing their kids (at first),” she said with a laugh. “However, once they get into it, the boys really get a lot out of it. They come back and are so grateful to be part of the organization, and some get super inspired by the people they work with. Maybe they didn’t necessarily connect with the beach clean-ups, but working with refugees really touches their hearts and they develop a passion for that.”
Brothers Michael (a seventh-grader at Saint Charles Borromeo Academy) and Anthony Ivanjack (a nine-grader at Saint Augustine High School), recalled their experiences with a refugee who was one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, a group of more than 20,000 boys displaced or orphaned during the Second Sudanese Civil War. They had met him during the first meeting of the SD6 chapter, where the teens and parents got to hear his story of coming to America.
“The people who helped him ... we’re like those people,” Anthony said. “The things we do in TVIA shadow that.”
Michael added that serving at Father Joe’s Villages’ food kitchen downtown was another “eye-opening” experience. “There’s just a lot more people than I thought there were who need food,” he said.
Other organizations working with SD6 include Bridge of Hope, Miracle League, Ronald McDonald House, Rady Children’s Celebration of Champions, Autism Tree Project Foundation, Surfrider Foundation, Mean Green Team and more — even Friends of Cats.
“That’s one of the great parts of TVIA,” said Case, “our teens get exposure to lots of different kinds of volunteer work.”
SD6 member Hadyn Graulich, also a ninth-grader at Saint Augustine High, recounted his experience serving food at a foster home full of immigrants and homeless children. “I look forward to going back to it again,” he said. “It showed me how lucky I am and how fortunate we all are to live in San Diego and be so protected.”
• How to become a Teen Volunteer in Action: Prospective members may choose whatever chapter they wish to join and fill out an application, which includes telling about their volunteer experiences and their parents’ volunteer experiences. Boys may apply when they’re in the sixth grade, entering seventh grade. As a rule, only boys in grades 7-10 are accepted as new members. When Point Loma-OB Monthly went to press, there were only available spots for current 6th and 9th graders. Membership dues are $200 for a family with one son and $100 for each additional son. Applications go online at tvia.org Sunday, March 1 and all applications must be submitted by March 20. For more information, e-mail VPMembershipSD6@tvia.org