Dear 4-H Volunteer,
Last year during National Volunteer Month, you were in the beginning of so many unknowns. Who knew that you would continue to be challenged to help youth thrive for another year? You had to continue to think hard about your capacity to deliver 4-H programming virtually, to meet young people where they are with new sets of rules and boundaries and far too many pivot points.
For some, the ask was too much given the realities of everyone still at home: working, schooling and managing all the things. We see you; we hear you.
And we understand.
Thank you for your courage to learn and try new ways—again and again and again—to serve youth in your communities.
Thank you for your perseverance even when things did not work the way you thought or wanted them to, even when there were so many roadblocks it brought you to tears.
Thank you for recognizing the look in the eyes of the youth that you serve that said how much they need you right now—and for responding in whatever way you could.
Thank you for all the deep breaths that you took as you managed challenge after challenge after challenge.
Thank you for digging deeply for patience and calm even when it eluded you. Thank you for having the clarity to know when you needed a break.
Thank you for your kindness, always kindness—and for understanding that relationships are what matters most.
Your contributions to help youth in these unprecedented times has never been more critical. We know that your young people struggled with you as they too managed so many stressors. We also know that your youth are resilient and have the confidence to help others to cope. Thank you for providing opportunities for young people to feel supported and for them to contribute.
It is my hope that as we emerge from this pandemic that we are stronger, more creative, more resilient, and more kind. Know that your dedication to help youth lead happy, healthy, thriving lives made a difference to those lives that you touched.
It's your energy, dedication, talent, time, and gifts that makes the impact for youth in California. We see you. We hear you. We appreciate you more than you will ever know.
On behalf of the University of California 4-H Youth Development Program, we thank you for all that you did and do.
Academic Coordinator for Volunteer Engagement
Author - 4-H Academic Coordinator for Volunteer Engagement