Guest post by Christina Byrne, GHHS senior and YAC member

The Youth Advisory Council (YAC) is a group of twenty high school students from Northwest Ottawa County who are passionate about learning about our community and investing in programs that will impact and improve the lives of youth. We meet monthly to discuss issues and most importantly, to evaluate and give grants.

Our YAC has a set of grantmaking priorities which are: health & human services, education, arts & culture, economic & community betterment, and environment. We see that those are the most important issues and we seek to fund programs for these goals.

Together we’ve funded many projects, such as high school classes, mentoring programs, pediatric cancer organizations, Women in Transition, music enrichment, and outpatient pediatric programs—just to name a few.

While evaluating grant requests—and in everything we do together—we are actively practicing philanthropy. Our definition of philanthropy is the effort to increase the wellbeing of humankind, specifically through charitable aid and/or donations.

Being on YAC has opened my horizons. I now can see what it is like for others in this community who have different needs than myself. I am beyond grateful for the opportunities that being on this committee has given me. I met some amazing people, have had enlightening discussions, learned about the many needs of the community, and have seen the impact of this group of twenty students. YAC continues to make that impact for so many and I am privileged to have another year with the council. Who knows how many lives will be changed for the better by the end of this year. I’m so excited to see!