One of Our Own Receives Downtown YMCA Volunteer of the Year Award

On April 21, Sarah Kerbel hurriedly left an awards banquet at the Holiday Inn celebrating the efforts of area YMCA volunteers. She raced over to the downtown YMCA where she quickly changed so she could be there for the final session of the ten-week Girl’s Night Out Program. This dedication and loyalty to her community is probably what won her the Downtown YMCA Volunteer of the Year Award for her work with the Girl’s Night Out Program.

When she arrived an hour late the girl’s asked, “Where were you?” They know Kerbel would never miss a session unless it were something very important because Kerbel knows how important the Girl’s Night Out Program is. The program is designed to help sixth graders deal with social issues and build confidence, Kerbel says. 

She has been with the program for five semesters. Each week the program will help to build a skill such as stress management or communication. The girls will split up into five or six groups and for the first hour will do activities to build that skill and Kerbel will work with each of these groups on activity. The last hour will be physical activities.

(l-r) Jill Lavarda, Community, Teen and Family YMCA Director,  Erin Headley, Research Scientist, Schreiber Foods, Inc. and Sarah Kerbel, Community Coordinator, American Red Cross (award winners) and Kay Vanden Branden, YMCA Girls Night Out Coordinator.

(l-r) Jill Lavarda, Community, Teen and Family YMCA Director, Erin Headley, Research Scientist, Schreiber Foods, Inc. and Sarah Kerbel, Community Coordinator, American Red Cross (award winners) and Kay Vanden Branden, YMCA Girls Night Out Coordinator.

Kerbel says oftentimes when the program first starts out even though the girls all come from the same school they don’t know much about those outside their social circle. “At the end they branch out, try different things and meet new people.”

Kerbel found out about the program when the YMCA sent over their volunteer list to the American Red Cross Lakeland Chapter where she has been an employee for almost 3 years.  As the Heath and Safety Community and Authorized Provider Coordinator she oversees the Red Cross Lakeland Chapter training classes.

One of the benefits of her work with the sixth graders in the program is that it keeps her informed on what the age group is working on and what their interests are so she can share the information with the instructors at the American Red Cross Lakeland Chapter. “Keeps me in the know for the babysitting class, one of the most popular classes here.”The benefits are endless. “I’m always having fun when I’m there, learning new things. It keeps me younger,” Kerbel says. She learns from the positive and carefree attitudes of the sixth graders which helps her to remember not to worry about things so much.

The American Red Cross Lakeland Chapter is happy to see one of its employees awarded for her dedication and loyalty in the community. Kerbel says she is proud when she sees the girls grow and its “fun when you see the girls out in the community.”

If you are interested in learning more about volunteering for the Girls Night Out program click here: http://www.gbymcateens.org/

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