Alumni News and Updates
Sarah started out as a Counselor at Camp Sunrise in 2007 and 2008. Now, Sarah continues to help out with volunteering for events and giving rides home to youth. Sarah’s favorite part about working with YouthCARE is Camp Sunrise. She loves that it brings people from different backgrounds together. Many times, she said, those relationships end up being carried out into daily life and lasting friendships are formed. Sarah didn’t grow up going to camp, so when she was hired on as a Counselor, she was thrown into the camp environment not knowing what to expect. Yet, she noticed that, “whether or not you grow up in the YouthCARE family, you still feel welcome.” Sarah worked at Camp Sunrise before and after her last year of college. She feels that this definitely impacted her choice to launch directly into youth work as her career. In 2008, Sarah graduated from St. Kate’s with BA degrees in Critical Studies of Race and Ethnicity and Communications. After she graduated and spent her summer at Camp Sunrise, she worked as a Program Facilitator for a study abroad program for American college students in Thailand for one year. Now, she works for a non-profit organization in St. Paul and has been doing so for the past two years. The non-profit organization is called Women’s Initiative for Self-Empowerment (WISE) Inc, which is also known as WISE. Sarah runs a program called Girls Getting Ahead in Leadership (GGAL) which works with high school females in 10 – 12th grade who are from immigrant and refugee backgrounds. She focuses on helping them with college preparation, English literacy and leadership development.
Chonquita (CJ) Jones
“I was introduced to YouthCARE as an AmeriCorps VISTA. I served my AmeriCorps year as a Youth Employment Training Coordinator. I focused primarily with developing and facilitating job skill workshops. My favorite part was everything! I enjoyed going to help at camp and meeting all of the youth that worked each week at camp. Volunteering to get camp ready for the summer was amazingly fun and the drive to camp was nice also. I even enjoyed helping out with the YWMP and CS Stars and facilitating workshops for them. They were always a great group and always interacted with each workshop I gave. [From being a part of YouthCARE’s activities,] I learned that relationships you cultivate at YouthCARE are very true and long lasting. Also that each staff at YouthCARE really cares about each teenager that walks through that door and willing to help in whatever way they can. Oh….IT'S AWESOME BEING AT YOUTHCARE! YouthCARE honestly motivated me to strive to be a positive active citizen in the world. Being new to the work force, I will work diligently to be a part of an organization that has positive energy from the top-down that you’ll find at YouthCARE. I love YouthCARE and will always continue to be a part of it. YouthCARE helped me justify my passion for youth and will work to make youth work apart of my career. [Now,] I am back in Chicago, where I grew up, working at DePaul University as an Admission Counselor. I am also working on my application to Graduate school in Higher Education. I also picked up BOXING. I talked about it my whole time at YouthCARE and I am finally doing it!”
“I was a Camp Counselor at Camp Sunrise during the years of 2008 and 2009. I was also Vets crew leader for 2009. Whenever I get the chance, I’m still involved and still an active volunteer for YouthCARE events. My favorite part of YouthCARE is being able to see the smile on the youth’s faces. I am so thankful to be able to make friends from all walks of life through YouthCARE. Camp Sunrise was such an amazing experience for me. There is definitely something in the air; the atmosphere, the people, and the energy; it’s contagious. From the moment I stepped on the camp grounds of Camp Sunrise, I did not know what to expect; but knew this was the right place for me to be. At the time, I had been struggling with the loss of my dad and was still searching for answers. I have always enjoyed the calm of the river and peaceful outdoors. Camp Sunrise allowed me time to free my mind and really know what I want to do with my life. During my two summer as a camp counselor, I’ve develop life long skills and a hard work ethic to help me in my career today. I’ve realized that my work with youth and children is still not done. I still have a long journey in front of me, but am thankful and blessed to have had the opportunity to be a part of the organization. During the 2007-2008 school year, I was with Hmong American Partnership (HAP) working as their Hmong Youth Pride (HYP) after school site coordinator and contracted to work at Jackson Elementary as a Teacher Assistant through HAP. I was hired full time at Jackson as a Teacher Assistant in 2008-2009. As of today, I received a promotion at Jackson Preparatory Magnet as the Behavioral Intervention Specialist starting the 2011-2012 school year. I know that my job as a counselor is not complete. At the moment I am pursuing my degree in counseling as well.”
“I began my journey with YouthCARE when it was still called Camp Sunrise back in 1986/1987 as a camper. Then, I became a Junior Counselor in 1989. After high school, I lost touch with Camp Sunrise to focus on college. From 1996 - 2006, I reconnected with YouthCARE again as a volunteer and even worked as a counselor for 1/2 of the summer as well as served on the Board of Directors. I don't think I really have a favorite part about the program. Everything about YouthCARE is wonderful to me. From the weekend camping trips, the reunion parties, the lock-in, the 7 days at camp, and even the service projects! ESPECIALLY the service projects. I have learned so much from being a part of YouthCARE that it's hard to list them all. Most importantly, I learned to be proud of my own ethnicity and respect all others as well. In addition to this, I took with me the respect for our environment. I still strongly believe in this and am always encouraging others to do the same. Currently, I'm an ESL teacher for Robbinsdale School District. I've been teaching for 15 years now and will continue to teach for as long as we have schools, or until I croak.”
Cherese Alcorn was a McDonough Youth Mentor in 2004-05. Cherese also spent a great deal of time volunteering during her involvement with YouthCARE. This included volunteering with the Glendale Adventure Girls and Girls Group, and even being an emcee for the Young Women’s Mentoring Program graduation celebration at YouthCARE’s Celebration of Urban Youth event. When she graduated from the Young Women’s Mentoring program, Cherese was paired with Beasy McGlothlin, YouthCARE’s Development Associate, as a mentor and they have continued this relationship for about 7 years now. Cherese said, “Because I was an Adventure Girls and Girls Group member, it was nice to give back [through volunteering] and it was nice to have something positive to do with my free time.” From being a part of YouthCARE’s activities, Cherese said that she “learned work ethics, the importance of showing up to work on time, and giving your best while at work.” She also said that there were “lots of training on health, finances, savings, diversity. We even went to a training at planned parenthood and were able to get involved with them through volunteering.” Cherese graduated from the University of Minnesota in December 2010. While she was there, she studied Family Social Science. Now, Cherese works at Model Cities. Model Cities is a non-profit in St. Paul. Cherese works directly with a program called Sankofa which helps previously homeless youth aged 17-25 who are either pregnant or parenting a child. She is a Housing Case Manager.
Dianne Hiatt was involved with YouthCARE in a number of ways. She was a camper, JC, CIT, the assistant cook, and a volunteer. When thinking about her favorite part about working with YouthCARE, Dianne said it was “definitely the people I met. These were all great people who wanted to make a difference in the kids' lives.” From being a part of YouthCARE’s activities, Dianne said she learned “a whole lot of patience!” Dianne also said that being a part of YouthCARE has “taught me to be aware of service. I've been more likely to volunteer my time for other projects because of my involvement with camp.” Now, Dianne works for a company called Clearfield that specializes in fiber optics.
Chee Ge Xiong
Chee Ge got involved with YouthCARE by being the youngest in his family. He said “Most if not all my siblings have been apart of the YouthCARE/Camp Sunrise programs. My siblings practically signed me up for camp sunrise in 2006 and I was instantly hooked. Since then, I’ve been climbing the leadership ladder with being a VET camper in '07, a CS stars crew member in '08, a Junior Counselor in '09, CIT in '10 and my most current one was this past summer the CS stars Assistant Crew Leader with my co-worker Shakiela Dillard. Chee Ge also said “My favorite part of YouthCARE is that everyone you meet along the way throughout the program becomes a good friend almost as if it’s a second family. Plus, there’s so much diversity in the program itself that you’re always learning new things about different cultures. I have learned many skills by being a part of the program activities. Back in '06 I was the shyest person out there, never wanting to step out my comfort zone but I feel that while climbing the leadership ladder, I have been exposed to the different ways people lead and I myself took from what they've offered and used it to better myself as a person. I still can be shy but the program has helped me open up more and just be who I am as a person. I feel that YouthCARE has impacted my life tremendously that I don’t even know where to begin. But one thing that I feel I should mention that helped me become who I am today is the support that the program has to offer. Whether is a small issue or a big one, or if it’s that you want help in improving a skill, they will be there to offer the support you need to work on the situation.” Right now, Chee Ge is currently attending Minneapolis Community & Technical College and taking general classes. He hopes to transfer to either the U of M or Mankato to major in the field of Biology.
MK was involved with YouthCARE by being a Counselor and Head Cook at Camp Sunrise. She also worked as a Program Leader with the Young Women’s Mentoring Program in 2003-04. She also spent some time volunteering with YouthCARE as well. When think about her involvement with YouthCARE/Camp Sunrise, she said it was an “incredible experience.” She said it was great to “get into nature and learn how to be self-sufficient.” She also said, “I’ve always lived in the city, so spending three months was really eye-opening. Problems seem so small when you’re out there. It was a great escape from the injustices that you experience and it is really transformative. I learned a lot. I learned that if you give people opportunities to do something different, they will exceed your expectations.” She said that YouthCARE gave her a lot of opportunities to work with different communities and different types of people. “It set me up to understand what I want and what I don’t want. It gave me opportunities to be a servant of the community, to develop as a leader, and to stand against social injustice” Since her involvement with YouthCARE, MK went on to get a Master’s Degree in Social Justice and Education. She worked in San Francisco as a Youth Organizer for education reform and social justice. Now, she is the Deputy Director at the Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is also getting married soon!
Andre Walker has been involved with YouthCARE in almost every way possible. He started out as a camper 13 years ago. Then, he went on to become a Veteran Camper, a Junior Counselor, a Counselor in Training twice, an Assistant Counselor, and a Head Counselor. He also has helped out and been a part of the Youth Advisory Council, and various weekend trips. His favorite part about working with YouthCARE is the diversity and the multicultural atmosphere that YouthCARE/Camp Sunrise provides. He also enjoys getting to know people from different backgrounds, which is a big part of working with YouthCARE. By being a part of YouthCARE, Andre said that It made him more interested in learning about different cultures, enough so that he has taken the time to learn different phrases in the languages of his friends and co-workers from YouthCARE. Andre said, “YouthCARE has had a huge impact on my life. It has given me a chance to have positive role models. Even my first counselor up at camp invested in me. He even took me driving to practice for getting my driver’s license.” Now, Andre works for the Gittleman Management Corporation and he has been doing so since 2007. He is also a Junior at Metro State University studying Human Services Administration. Outside of working and going to school, Andre enjoys basketball, football, and the outdoors. He also spends a lot of time volunteering for YouthCARE. “YouthCARE is a strong organization. Their programs are life changing and the definitely help keep youth going in the right direction” says Andre.
Sarah has been involved with YouthCARE in a number of ways. She said, “I was a Camp Sunrise counselor in 1994 (yikes!), the YouthLEAD program Director from 1999-2006 and have since volunteered in a variety of ways. I miss doing the all women’s winter weekend camping trips.” When reflecting about her favorite part about working with YouthCARE, she said, “Craig is an amazing person to work for and with. He has taught me a great deal. Other staff were great to work with – it was such a positive environment. The youth activities were great – they kept me young. And they’re so much fun! Working with youth participants and adult volunteers was inspiring and rewarding.” From being a part of YouthCARE’s activities, she said that she learned “to respect others and myself, to be a good listener, to give folks a second and sometimes third chance, and to enjoy the process. I learned skills that help me in my real estate career today; people skills, listening, educating, organizing, communication. I still feel connected to a positive community. Now, Sarah works as a Realtor. She says, “I’m having a blast as a Realtor; earning my clients’ trust and building my own business has been incredibly rewarding. I’m also dabbling in Aerial Yoga – there’s a cool link on my FB page and planning my next vacation: destination TBD.” Sarah also continues to be a part of YouthCARE by being the Chair for YouthCARE’s “Play a City Course for City Kids” Golf Benefit Planning Committee.
"In the summer of 2001 I had the opportunity to experienced Camp Sunrise for the first time, and although I’ve never been to this camp before, something feels right about the place; the high energy, the nice and caring staff, and the sound of nature. I was greeted with a warm welcome by the staffs and recognized some familiar faces as well. After living seven days at the camp, my life was changed. I went back home with a different view on life. I was told growing up, that other people different from me have bad intentions, but my experiences at Camp Sunrise say otherwise. I had so much fun the entire week. Weeks turn into months, months into years, and before long, I was glued to the place. Little by little, I started to see the effects Camp Sunrise had in my life. My English language improved, my social skills increased, and my confidence became stronger. Camp Sunrise has opened my eyes to appreciate the differences in others. Camp Sunrise has given me insights, understanding, and a direct experience to interact with people from different cultures, backgrounds, colors, sizes, genders, ages, etc… I am grateful to have met many great souls whom cared for me, encouraged me, and challenged me to be become a better person."
Thank you Sou! You are such a great inspiration to us all!
“My relationship with YouthCARE began when I was hired as a counselor in the summer of 98. After that, I maintained involvement as a volunteer, later on, returning to work in the office as the Development & Administrative Coordinator. Since then, I’ve continued to volunteer when I can. Most recently, I interned this past Spring, assisting Craig and Beasy with development research and the Celebration of Urban Youth event. [My favorite parts about working with YouthCARE are] The people, the culture, and the leadership! I loved the inclusivity and “sense of belonging” that staff and volunteers generated for one another as well as for each and every participant. There was a type of commitment and authenticity that was so unique; in my experience, this has not been found elsewhere. Of course, much of this wouldn’t be possible without great leadership modeling and encouraging such a culture. Kudos to the consistent positive energy and spirit! There have been so many opportunities (both formal and informal) in which I have learned from through my involvement with YouthCARE activities. I believe the most notable is that my experience with YouthCARE has affirmed and solidified my commitment to racial equality, cultural appreciation, service and community. The most significant accomplishment one can feel is the contribution one makes to empower another person; I have truly benefitted from this, both personally and professionally. YouthCARE has been such a big impact in my life – I have received so much more than I have given…and I’m very thankful for this…I’m super excited that my appreciation for YouthCARE is very well realized by my children, who cannot wait to attend Camp Sunrise! [Now] I am a current student, finishing up with Graduate School at Metropolitan State University with a degree in Master of Public and Nonprofit Administration. I am not “employed” at the moment (though, searching for a job is a full time job in itself)…My main full time responsibility is mothering my three beautiful children, ages 11, 9, and 8, where I spend a huge amount of time volunteering in their school. This past Spring I was appointed Commissioner for the Roseville Human Rights Commission, and most recently, celebrated a victorious electoral win as School Board Director for Roseville Area Schools. I am also a Board Member for Rosetown Playhouse, a small performing arts theater (501(c)3). Aside from the commitments mentioned above, I also belong to many affiliations (i.e. League of Women Voters, Emerging Professionals in Philanthropy, Citizens League, etc…) and attend to various community events, whether it’s presenting or participating in meetings, forums, conferences, and other activities.”
Congratulations on your election as School Board Director for Roseville Area Schools, Kaying!
Anthony was a camper during the summers of 2006-07. He was also very active in the year round Camp Sunrise and YouthLEAD events throughout the school year. Additionally, he worked in the YouthCARE office as a Youth Program Assistant in 2010 for Camp Sunrise. Most recently, he worked at Camp Sunrise as an Assistant Counselor last summer. He is still an active volunteer with events at YouthCARE today. Anthony’s favorite part about working with YouthCARE was the transition from being a Junior Staff to an Adult Staff. He said, “It was really cool to be able to play that role for someone else just as someone played that role for me.” He also said, “I learned a lot of work skills [from being a part of YouthCARE’s activities]. I’ve always wanted to go into the social work fields, so YouthCARE has definitely given me experience with that.” Because of working with YouthCARE, Anthony said he felt that it really gave him a chance to do something different. Now, Anthony works for Five Guys and Uncle Moe’s Deli. When he is not working, he likes to spend his free time volunteering at YouthCARE.
Anthony’s picture was also featured in The Post Review of East Central Minnesota when they featured Camp Sunrise Visitor’s Day. To view the article online, click here.
There are not enough ways for us to say “thank you” for all you done for YouthCARE!
Pahoua started as a camper and climbed up the leadership ladder including attending leadership week, being a Veteran Camper, Junior Counselor, Counselor-in-Training and Head Counselor. She stayed involved with YouthCARE during the school year by serving on the Youth Advisory Council and going on weekend trips. Pahoua also had many jobs in the YouthCARE offices such as being a Community Service Star Assistant Crew Leader, Camp Recruiter, and working on various special projects. When thinking about her favorite part about working with YouthCARE, she said it was “seeing how everyone has grown throughout the years. We’re kind of like a little family.” She also said that by being a part of YouthCARE’s activities, she learned to be more responsible. “When I was 15 I knew I wanted a job, and I knew I had to apply early. [I] attended a how to get a job workshop, [made a] resume, and got to do mock interviews. I also learned how to fill out job applications.” Pahoua also said, “I learned to build relationships with adults when I was a kid, learned how to trust adults outside of my family, [and because of that] I want to have that same impact.” Pahoua is currently attending the University of Minnesota – Duluth and she is studying Health Education in the Community. She also has a job working in the school store.
Thanks for all you’ve done for YouthCARE! Keep studying hard, Pahoua!
“I heard of YouthCARE before when my cousin worked at Camp Sunrise for two summers. Back then, I was busy with my TRIO Upward Bound program and couldn’t commit my summers to Camp Sunrise. When I became the appropriate age to apply as a counselor, my cousin, Maytsua recommended me to apply as a counselor. I worked up at Camp Sunrise as a Counselor during the summer of 2011. There were too many good memories to single out just one favorite part [about being involved with YouthCARE]. I loved waking up every morning knowing that the day was going to be filled with such joy and fun. I wouldn’t even call it working. I would gladly do the summer again for free! As a counselor, I learned sooo many things. How to survive in the wilderness, canoe and even cook! The campers that came up to camp taught me the most, teaching me everything from their everyday difficulties to how to speak another language! At Camp Sunrise, everyone was each other’s best friend, and that’s what made the environment at camp feel so at home. Everyone got along with everyone, regardless of race, culture, religion and history. If anything, [being involved with YouthCARE] has made me a more positive person. YouthCARE has made me become the person I am today. I still wear my camp bracelets that my campers made for me, and I brag about how awesome my summer was back at camp. I view the world through more optimistic lens than I have before and I never worry too much now. When I’m stressed, I look down at my bracelets and remember the wonderful memories of camp. The canoe trips with my crew, the dinners with all the campers and the fun we had during activities. I have become such a better person through YouthCARE. Currently, I’m attending Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts. I’m a sophomore and will be double majoring in Environmental Studies and Sociology. I work with the Suffolk Sustainability committee. I am an Eco-Ambassador and my job is to raise green campus initiatives and to assist with planning, promotion, and management of environmentally green events throughout Suffolk University. I am also a Service Scholar. I plan and facilitate volunteer group events that happen throughout the year. I am also and Alternate Winter and Spring Break Leader. I will be leading a group of student volunteers to El Salvador in the winter and to Virginia in the spring to work with Habitat for Humanity. At Suffolk, I also play for the Suffolk Men’s Tennis team. Last year, we had a 13-1 record and won our division. Tennis season is just around the corner!”
Thank you so much for the update, Thay! We truly appreciate the impact you have made here at YouthCARE!
Nick Flowers was, and continues to be, highly involved with YouthCARE and Camp Sunrise. He was a camper, a Junior Counselor, a Counselor-in-Training, an adult staff as a counselor, and he was part of the Youth Advisory Council and CS Stars. Nick’s favorite part about working at Camp Sunrise was working with the youth. From being involved with YouthCARE, Nick said, “I learned how to be motivated and get things done smoothly, I learned different leadership skills, and how to be patient. YouthCARE has had a big impact on my life. YouthCARE is a big mentor, it helps you get your mind focused, prepares you for the future, and teaches you skills you might need.” Now, Nick works at Macy’s and also at the YMCA. He is also currently active as a volunteer with YouthCARE.
Thanks for staying involved with YouthCARE, Nick!
Sondra started out her involvement with YouthCARE as a Young Women’s Mentoring Program mentor in 2006. In 2007-08, she was a part of the Community Service Stars program of YouthLEAD. Then, in 2009 she was an office assistant. In 2010, she became a CS Stars assistant crew leader and then this past summer, she worked as a Camp Sunrise Recruiter. Sondra’s favorite part about working with YouthCARE is “getting to experience all types of things.” Sondra said, “It’s a positive environment that does a lot for communities and youth.” From being a part of YouthCARE’s activities, Sondra said she learned cultural awareness, communication skills, leadership skills, and job readiness. When thinking about the affect YouthCARE has had on her life, Sondra said, “It has impacted me a lot. It has given me motivation to try new things and meet new people. It has given me skills that I can do in my everyday life. Now, Sondra is a Sophomore at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and she currently works in the YouthCARE office as a Program Assistant for YouthLEAD.
Thanks for all you’ve done for YouthCARE, Sondra!
Doua started out in his involvement with YouthCARE as a camper in 1992. He became a junior counselor in 1994, and was on camp staff in 1997 and 2000. In 2002, he was the assistant director of Camp Sunrise. Since his days of living and working at Camp Sunrise, he continues to volunteer with YouthCARE during various activities. Doua said that his favorite part of working with YouthCARE was definitely the youth and the staff. He said, “It’s been a pleasure to see the youth grow through the program. It’s great to see the youth become young adults and adults. It’s very rewarding.” When talking about what he learned from being involved in YouthCARE, he said “I learned a great deal. I learned things I continue to carry on today. YouthCARE’s mission is invaluable. I learned how to work with others, how to be respectful, and now working with people from different cultures has even been part of my adult career.” Doua also said, “YouthCARE has had a tremendous impact on my life. The most noticeable factor is that I have learned to be open minded to new cultures, new people, and new adventures. I did a lot of first things with YouthCARE including my first time canoeing.” Doua now works for the Department of Human Services for the state of Minnesota. He is married to Yeng Lor who owns a photography business. He also has three kids—a daughter who is seven years old, and to boys who are three and two years old. Doua showed much appreciation for the time that he has spent being a part of YouthCARE. In closing, he said, “YouthCARE has always been a big part of who I am. I still consider the YouthCARE family as my family. I am still connected to a lot of people from YouthCARE. It had a big impact on who I am and who I hope my kids will be someday too.”
Thanks for all you've done for YouthCARE, Doua!
When Eve was involved with YouthCARE, she was a Camp Sunrise participant, a mentor for the Young Women’s Mentoring Program, and a volunteer. Her favorite part about working with YouthCARE was the fun activities that she was a part of. She said that she learned how to work with others through the team building skills that she acquired. She also said that being involved with YouthCARE “helped [her] think more creatively and [taught her] how to be a better person.” Now, Eve works at the Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board as the Executive Assistant.
Good luck with your future career! We wish you the best, Eve!
MaiNhia was a Counselor at Camp Sunrise in 2006 and then she became a camp recruiter in 2007 and 2008. Her favorite part about working with YouthCARE was “being at camp, going canoeing, and just getting to hang out with all my kids! They’re my favorite!” When thinking about what she learned from being a part of YouthCARE’s activities, she said, “I learned a lot! More than anything, especially from being at camp, I learned how important nature was and how important it was to introduce kids to things that had never done before. It was powerful. [She also learned] how important it was to be in nature and get away from the cities to do something completely different—even though it was hard at first.” Through being involved with YouthCARE, MaiNhia met a lot of people and still keeps in touch with them. Five of her siblings have been to camp and have also been involved with YouthCARE. She graduated from Augsburg College in June with a Master’s in Social Work and before that, she graduated from Gustavus in 2009 with a degree in Sociology and Peace Studies. She now works for The Family Partnership as a Mental Health Therapist. MaiNhia enjoys spending her time being an aunt to an adorable little boy named Ethan (pictured right) and playing on a Hmong Women’s Flag Football team.
Thanks for the update, MaiNhia! Congratulations on being an Aunt!
Pa Nhia Her
Pa Nhia first heard about YouthCARE through her sister who was a Youth Mentor for the Young Women’s Mentoring Program. Pa Nhia then participated in the Adventure Girls and Girls Group through the YWMP. Her favorite part about being involved with YouthCARE was meeting new people and getting to know the kids in her neighborhood. By being a part of the YWMP, she said she learned a lot of leadership and teamwork skills. She also said that YouthCARE prepared her to find a job working with helping people. Now, Pa Nhia is in 11th grade at South High School in Minneapolis. She is also a Marketing Intern at the Ability Network. She enjoys playing flag football and plays on a team during the spring.
Have a great year in school, Pa Nhia!
Sarah Ullmer (Sullmer)
Sarah was the Education Coordinator at YouthCARE in 2000. She was also the Assistant Director of Camp Sunrise, and then she became the Director of Camp Sunrise. Her favorite part about working with YouthCARE is the people that she has met and still is in contact with today. When thinking about what she learned from being a part of YouthCARE, she said, “I learned so much. In terms of living and working with people from diverse backgrounds, it’s such a great training ground. That life experience was the key to my success today.” She also said, “YouthCARE was my first job out of college. I worked there for 6 years. It instilled a lot of values, both personally and professionally, that I still carry with me today. Now, Sarah works at the Minnesota Alliance with Youth which is a statewide network that supports AmeriCorps Promise Fellows. She graduated from Macalester College with a degree in Biology and Environmental Science in 2000. She is also a massage therapist and enjoys practicing Tae Kwon Do.
Thanks for helping out with YouthCARE, Sullmer!
Noke has been involved with YouthCARE in many different ways. He was a camper from 1985-1986. Then he was a junior counselor in 1987. He became a staff member from 1988-2001 and finally, he served on the Board of Directors in 2008 and retired last year from that. He is currently an active volunteer and serves on the Strategic Planning Committee for YouthCARE. Noke’s favorite part about working with YouthCARE is the people—the youth, the volunteers, and the staff. From working with YouthCARE, he has made lifelong friendships. Noke said, “YouthCARE is a big part of who I am and what I am doing now. Without my YouthCARE/Camp Sunrise experience, I can’t imagine the direction I would have had. I wouldn’t have traded this for anything. It was priceless!” Now, Noke works at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. He works in the Academic Advising Liberal Arts Academy. He has a lovely five year old son named Zion, and a wife named Carlyn. He enjoys spending time with his family, hanging out, traveling, and playing sports.
Thank you for all the ways you continue to support YouthCARE, Noke!
While Dan was involved with YouthCARE, he was the Assistant Director at Camp Sunrise in 2005. He went on to work in the YouthCARE office from 2005 – 2007. After that, Dan began working at an organization very similar to Camp Sunrise called Seeds of Peace. While he was there, he helped the organization with their purpose to bring teens from different countries together. They have a camp program where the teens learn leadership skills and how to reconcile any differences they might have. He is now attending the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth in New Hampshire where he is pursuing an MBA. His goal is to take what he learned in the private sector and bring it to the non-profit sector. Upon reflecting on his time he spent at Camp Sunrise he said, “My summer at camp was the hardest job, but the most fulfilling. I was constantly inspired by how much ownership the campers and staff took. The growth that I saw as campers were climbing the leadership ladder was also really inspiring. I think it’s great that the majority of counselors are Alumni campers!”
Good luck as you further your education, Dan!
Sy was a camper at Camp Sunrise in the mid 90’s. While being a part of Camp Sunrise, Sy enjoyed meeting new people and teamwork. He said that being a camper “helped [him] endure challenges and it gave [him] opportunities.” Now, Sy is a student at Concordia University. He is planning on getting a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business. Along with going to school, Sy works for the MN Department of Transportation. His main job responsibilities are Data Entry and Contact Compliance.
Best wishes with all your endeavors, Sy!
Michelle started out on her experience with YouthCARE as a camper in 2007. From there, she became a Vet in 2008, a Junior Counselor in 2009, and a Counselor in Training in 2010. Many of her family members have also been a part of YouthCARE/Camp Sunrise. In 1983, Michelle’s dad was a Junior Counselor. Her aunt was an Assistant Director of Camp Sunrise, and all her sisters have been involved with YouthCARE. Michelle is now a Senior at Como Park High School in St. Paul. One of her main interests is Marine Biology and that is what she wants to study at the University of Minnesota next year. She said that being a part of Camp Sunrise “gave [her] a lot of leadership opportunities and it helped [her] grow as an individual, be more outgoing, and more ambitious.”
Good luck as you finish high school, Michelle!
Saliou is an Alumni Camper, Junior Counselor and Counselor in Training. She is originally from Guinea in West Africa. She is attending Minnesota State University in Mankato. Her major is Pre-Med with a minor in biology. Once she graduates, she wants to pursue a career as a Brain Surgeon or a Medical Examiner. She said that being a part of Camp Sunrise has really helped her improve in her English skills. She also said, “Being a part of Camp Sunrise helped me learn to stand up for myself and what I believe in. I learned how to be a role model. It was awesome!” Right now, Saliou spends most of her time working but she also enjoys those rare moments when she gets to go to movies, go shopping, and “pamper” herself.
Keep working hard, Saliou! We wish you the best!
Chee Vang is an Alumni Camper, Vet, Junior Counselor, and Counselor in Training. She just started her 1st year at St. Kate’s. She is studying Secondary Education with a concentration in English. One day, she hopes to be a high school English teacher. Most of Chee’s free time is spent studying and reading as a result of being in school. When reflecting on how YouthCARE made an impact on her life, she said, “The leadership roles that I had at camp gave me confidence for public speaking and I became better at communicating with people.” Because of this, she said, “I really like to talk, share ideas, and be a speaker.”
Keep studying, Chee! Good luck with college this year!
Ashley Haro is an Alumni of the Young Women’s Mentoring Program. She was a part of the Adventure Girls and Girls Groups when she was younger. After that, she became a Youth Mentor. She said that her favorite part about being a mentor was doing activities with the girls. “I got to make up my own little activities. My favorite project was making head bands, so we did that a lot.” She said she also loved helping the girls with their homework—“They would bring it back to me and show me that they aced it!” She said that she learned a lot from being a part of YouthCARE. “I learned leadership, organization, computer skills, how to manage money. I learned how to set goals and attain them and how to speak in front of people. I learned a lot!” She said that because she learned how to set goals, and how to achieve them, she made it to college and has a good job. Now, Ashley is attending St. Paul College and working at Little Caesars. She is also looking into having a job as a caregiver for elderly people.
We wish you all the best in life, Ashley!
Andy Luu in Australia while he was volunteering with People to People and traveling with a group of students all over the world.
Chee Ge Xiong
MK Nguyen (Left)
Sarah Nurnberger running the live auction for YouthCARE's "Play a City Course for City Kids" Golf Benefit.
Doua with his two boys, Logan and Arthur, his daughter Chloe and his wife Yeng
MaiNhia and her nephew, Ethan
Pa Nhia visiting the YouthCARE office!
Noke, left, with his team at the 2011 "Play a City Course for City Kids" Golf Benefit.
Sy Vang (left) at the Celebration of Urban Youth Event with friends!
Chee Vang, Michelle Vang, and Saliou Diallo on a visit to the YouthCARE office!
Ashley Haro at her graduation from the Young Women's Mentoring Program.