Youth Advisory Council

Youth Advisory Council

"Being a part of the YAC is like being a piece in the puzzle. All the YAC members are different, but we all bring ideas and opinions to the table."

 

What is the Youth Advisory Council?

The YAC is a structured opportunity for high school students to serve in a leadership capacity within KHK, lending youth voice and perspective to our organization.

What do members of the YAC do?

The YAC meets on a regular basis (at least twice a month) to plan upcoming projects and quarterly ambassador meetings. Members of the YAC represent KHK at public relations events and demonstrate initiative, responsibility, and commitment to the core values of KHK.

Meet the 2023-2024 YAC: 

Sofia Castañeda

YAC President

Senior, Rye Country Day School

Hello, my name is Sofia and I am so excited to be on the YAC! I was introduced to KHK when I led a Spark-A-Project during the summer of 2021. I ran a writing workshop for three weeks with the 6th graders at the Boys and Girls Club. This was my first real introduction to service, in that I was studying issues relating to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and creating a project on my own, instead of participating in a service program that another person or organization ran. This project was very special to me because it revealed to me the wide world of community service; getting my feet wet with this project made me realize that community service is one of my life’s passions. The more I work with KHK, the more I am able to explore the underlying racial and socioeconomic inequalities that contribute to the issues we work with. Additionally, I realize that regardless of what career I pursue, I will pursue it in a way that allows me to continue to work to elevate oppressed populations, and to change our systems and institutions so that there is a future without inequality. KHK is incredibly special to me, and has by far been the pursuit of mine that has most contributed to the development of my public speaking skills and leadership abilities, and has, above all, introduced me to a community filled with people who I know I will have meaningful relationships with for the rest of my life!

Gabriela Coppola

Senior, Lauralton Hall

Hello, my name is Gabriela. I am a Senior at Lauralton Hall, where I play Varsity tennis and participate actively in the Engineering Team, NHS, Italian Club, and Key Club. I am so proud to be the Vice President of the Youth Advisory Council (YAC) and an active volunteer of this inspiring, youth-led organization! KHK has given me various chances to prepare, participate, and debrief projects, showcase my public speaking skills, express my opinions, and lead meetings. My self-confidence, leadership, and critical thinking skills have significantly grown as a member of the YAC. I was motivated to join Kids Helping Kids during my freshman year so I could volunteer and make an impact in my local Stamford, CT community. As the Team Captain for the winning “Food Insecurity Community Impact Project,” I encourage you to sign up for a Food Rescue delivery to continue our efforts to decrease hunger and malnourishment across Fairfield County. During my early volunteer years, I had an opportunity to be the Special Events Coordinator and Program Facilitator as a Summer Intern, where I marketed KHK and learned more about the KHK mission and fundraising efforts. After that amazing experience, I was inspired to spark my own baking project, “Cookies for a Cause,” which grew my leadership skills. My favorite project I volunteer at is the Handled with Care Dress Boutique, where girls and boys can search through a selection of donated dresses, jewelry, and suits for a special occasion and take home what they need. I also enjoy sorting food at Filling in the Blanks because it allows me to collaborate with others and build my teamwork skills.

Michael Garofalo

Senior, Westhill High School

Hi! My name is Michael Garofalo and I am a member of YAC, I am I senior at Westhill High School. Some things I like to do are drawing, computers and video games. I have been with KHK for for quite a few years now and one of my favorite projects has been Gift of Giving. I am excited to continue to grow with KHK and I hope I can help others grow too! 

Emilia Coppola

Sophmore, Lauralton Hall

Hi! My name is Emilia Coppola and I am a Sophmore at Lauralton Hall. I enjoy playing tennis and basketball. I am an officer for the LH Engineering team and I participate in various clubs like Key club and Italian club. I’m very excited to be a part of the YAC to share my ideas and I’m hoping to spark a new project! I’ve been a volunteer with Kids Helping Kids for a couple years now, and really enjoyed helping with the pumpkin bread sales. More recently, cheering runners on at the “Walk/Run for Good.” I enjoy serving others in my community and I’m happy to show leadership in this amazing organization.

Kate Lane

Junior, Wilton High School

Hi! My name is Kate Lane. I am a junior at Wilton High School. I love to run and play hockey. I joined KHK in the fall of 2020 when I was looking to get more involved with my community. My first project was a small event helping Filling in the Blanks. After that, I knew I really wanted to get more involved with KHK and to continue volunteering. Since then, I have done many events that I love, but my favorite is the Gift of Giving. Kids Helping Kids has really helped me with my confidence and public speaking skills and I can’t wait for the years to come.

William Higgs

Junior, Brunswick

My name is Will Higgs. I am 16 years old, and I am a junior at Brunswick. I co-led a soccer project this past spring called “Kicking it with Kids” at the boys and girls club of Greenwich, and I wish to continue the project throughout my remaining years of high school. I am excited to be part of KHK because I can voice my own opinions and lead projects that I am passionate about with my peers.

Ben Schindelman

Junior, Center for Global Studies

Hi! My name is Ben Schindelman. I am a junior at Center for Global Studies in Norwalk, and I enjoy reading, playing video games, and singing. I have worked with Kids Helping Kids since 2021, and, drawn to the youth-led, independence-fostering approach to community service that KHK emphasizes, I’ve been hooked ever since! I’ve volunteered in projects of all sizes, from food-packing at Filling in the Blanks to helping plan the Hope Day mental health fair and the Handled With Care Boutique. I also led a Spark-A-Project, bringing a fun and informative trivia presentation to summer campers at the Boys and Girls Club during the summers of 2022 and 2023. This was my favorite project I’ve worked on with KHK because it allowed me to share my passion for learning and new knowledge with kids, and hopefully instill that passion in them too! I’m so proud to serve such a great organization as a part of the YAC, and I can’t wait to work with the rest of the team to help our community!

Ellery Harte

Junior, Greenwich High School

Hi, My name is Ellery and I am an 11th grader at Greenwich High School. I enjoy playing soccer and running track. I joined KHK when I was in 8th grade and I am excited for my first year on the YAC. I really love all of the KHK projects but the hat knitting project that I sparked last winter really inspired me to want to get more involved. KHK provides a unique opportunity for its members to see their service ideas become reality. Through this process, we are able to develop our leadership skills, confidence and passion to help others. I am proud to be part of the youth leadership team of such a great organization.

YAC in Training

Gwen Harte

Freshman, Greenwich High School

Hi, My name is Gwen Harte and I am a 9th grader at Greenwich High School. I enjoy playing soccer and lacrosse. I joined KHK last year and I instantly loved how KHK empowers kids to directly impact the lives of other kids. My favorite project is the Handled with Care Boutique because I love how one concept can create so much joy. I was inspired by my team’s work on the Community Impact Project last spring and hope to continue KHK’s work towards reducing food insecurity. I feel excited and grateful for the opportunity to work with other KHK members to create new opportunities to help others.

Sivan Niv

Sophomore, A.I.T.E

Hi I’m Sivan, a sophomore at A.I.T.E. and I love kids helping kids so much. The community is very welcoming and this is my 7th year working with them, it has been and still is an amazing experience.

YAC in Action