Winter/Spring 2021
Volume 45 Issue 1
Team YC vs. Empower Sports
YC participants and volunteers gathered for a little friendly competition!

We all spent a lot of 2020 kicking and screaming, especially our participants and volunteers on our soccer team! During the fall season, YC continued with our outdoor, in-person programming. Every Friday at 5pm, dedicated Team YC soccer players and volunteers gathered to work on their soccer skills. Staff member Abbie Hair, a former college soccer player, coached the team drill after drill and encouraged the players during all the scrimmages.

Jarrett kicks the ball down the field while teammate Gabby runs ahead to get open for a pass.

All the hard work (and fun!) culminated in a game against Empower Sports, another awesome non-profit with a similar mission to YC! The players were pumped to put their skills to the test. Unfortunately, the original game needed to be rescheduled due to weather and not all the players were able to attend the rescheduled match. This did not deter Team YC, and our incredible volunteers stepped up and filled in for the missing players. Fans, parents, and friends cheered on both teams at the Saint Ignatius McLaughlin Field as the players ran, passed the ball, and took shots at the goal. Empower Sports walked away with the victory, but Team YC put up a fight for the title. We are so proud of our participants and volunteers and are already looking forward to another game against Empower next fall!
Team YC, Empower Sports, and referee Chris Garr dressed in a chicken suit pose for a group picture.
Small But Mighty!
Programs continued this fall with Individual Sessions and Learning Pods

Jack works one-on-one with Sean using the vertical butterfly machine in the Fitness Center to build some muscle.

Our fall season saw a major shift in weather and program structure. While YC loves a good outdoor program, we knew the day would come when it was just too cold to continue meeting outside. Moving indoors during a pandemic had its challenges, but YC program staff figured out a smart, safe, and fun way to continuing meeting in-person with participants and staff throughout the colder months. Individual Sessions replaced our tried and true group programs in order to maintain CDC guidelines. 

Seneca, Kristina, and Brittany hold up their "glove monsters" made from repurposed knit gloves, felt, buttons, and thread which they learned to sew in an Individual Session.

Participants and volunteers were divided into sections of our spacious Westlake headquarters with as many as four concurrent sessions happening at once. Sessions included fitness, cinematography, science, eSports, and many more! Although we couldn't all be in the gym playing basketball or rehearsing for Dance & Drama, our individual sessions model allowed program staffers to tailor each program to the participant's interests and skills!

When we put on our "Summer School" programs the past few summers, we never thought YC Academy would become a real thing (minus Principal Sweet)! YC is known for FUN, but with the help of Lisa and Abbie, our Learning Pods put the COOL back in SCHOOL! Each week this fall, YC opened its doors to a small handful of participant students ranging from elementary to college-age.
Sean and Marcus participated in Individual Sessions and our Learning Pods. With the help of Jacob and Jimmy, the twins blow off some steam and work up a sweat playing "Just Dance" on the Wii in the Gym.

Staff worked one-on-one to ensure participants were getting the most out of online classes during a pandemic. Lisa Friel, our Alumni Engagement Manager, is a highly qualified teacher with a Master's in Special Education and a licensed K-12 mild/moderate intervention specialist. Our part-timer Abbie Hair studied Elementary and Special Education in college. With reliable wifi, individualized support, and a change of scenery, participants were able to continue to learn and grow as students. And what better place than YC for those short brain breaks? Shooting hoops in the gym, jamming out on a keyboard, or just catching up with other staffers in the building motivated participants to finish work quickly and efficiently.


2021 Programs

As we come back from winter break, virtual programs resume on Tuesday, January 12 and will continue until the end of January. Programs start 4pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays with the following themes:

No registration is required...just pop in to say "hello!" or stay the whole time! Check your emails for program ZOOM links and for more information regarding 2021 programs in the coming weeks.

We will continue to monitor the COVID situation and resume in-person programs when it is safe to do so. Stay up-to-date on YC's response to COVID-19 on our website.

Questions or concerns?  Please contact us!
Mackenzie Vecchio- Director of Program Services,
Sarah Cooney- Director of Volunteer & Outreach

Volunteer Corner
Volunteers spread service in new ways this season!

Holiday Cheer

Our volunteers spent the month of December spreading holiday cheer to participants all throughout Cleveland!  Countless little elves on our volunteer team made both holiday cards and care packages for participants of all ages. Cards were mailed to each member of the YC Gang and program staff turned the vans into Santa's sleigh to drop off goodies to participants' homes all throughout Northeast Ohio. Participants and their families were thrilled to receive their holiday treats. Here's what some of them had to say: 

Photos of piles of presents, cards, and care packages for participants that were put together by volunteers. Staff delivered packages during the holidays and many participant families sent back words of gratitude.
Through our volunteers' generosity, we were able to deliver packages to about 70 participants, from our li'l Krazy Kampers to the young adults of YELP, and every single gift brought a smile to each face!  It was an incredible way to end the year, especially given how rough 2020 proved to be, and we couldn't have spread this kind of Christmas cheer without all of our VAN-tastic volunteers!
From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU for giving so selflessly to YC and always bringing smiles and light to our participants' lives...even if it's from 6 (or more) feet away!

Putting the FUN in FUNdraiser- One Burrito at a Time

Sophia poses outside the YC sign on our Westlake building with a Chipotle bag. Volunteer Committee members created a promo video to advertise their Chipotle fundraiser.

On December 19th, YC's Volunteer Committee organized a dine and donate day at the West Park Chipotle in Cleveland's Kamm's Corners Neighborhood.  Between 5-9 pm that evening, 33% of the sales of anyone's order who mentioned YC was donated back to us.  Through their hard work in creatively spreading the word, this group of young leaders raised $286.29 that will go directly to supporting our programs. To check out their promotional video and other program plans, give this group a follow on Instagram: @ycvolunteercommittee

Volunteer Awards

As the crazy year of 2020 came to an end, we were more thankful than EVER for our amazing volunteer team!
Since we didn't have the opportunity to reward or honor them all like we usually do, we decided to put together a VIRTUAL VOLUNTEER RECOGNITION instead...because not even COVID could keep us from showing how much we love and appreciate all you do for YC!!!
Please take a minute to celebrate our volunteers' contributions to YC by watching our video presentation HERE.


Total Hours Served in 2020
Abi Dumm
Lindsay O'Keefe  
Jim Slife
Katie Lawlor
Lauren Becker  
Kerry Madden  
Adam Philipps 
Sophia Needham
Kristina Telban  
Emma Garr       
Alvin Cai 

Looking Back! 
Fall Snapshots

Lilia tries to dodge Mackenzie's wrecking ball @ Silly Sports / Tessa passes to Megan @ Soccer
YELPers gather in a circle outside YC @ Peer Support
Jarod tries to avoid Lindsay's pool noodle in a game of Pac Man @ Video Games IRL / 
Rachael, Kerry, & Autumn investigate a crime @ Cinematography

Sarah & Caitlin roll clay coils @ Ceramics / Marcus hits the ball off the tee @ Baseball
Deegan examines his balloon and pop bottle experiment @ Science / 
The Volunteer Committee poses in costumes in front of Vanimal @ Halloween Drive-In
Ava, Mackenzie, & JB hit the ball off the tee @ Baseball / Huston practices his putting stance @ Golf

North Pole Netflix
Celebrating the Holidays- 2020 Style!

For decades, the Youth Challenge family has gathered in December for the annual Holiday Show to close out the program year. While 2020 certainly tried to derail our plans for spreading holiday cheer, YC found a new way to continue this time-honored tradition.

This year, our Annual Holiday Show went virtual! We substituted our live performance at Magnificat High School for a pre-recorded video created, directed, and produced by participants and volunteers in our Cinematography program. This cinematic masterpiece takes the imagination and festivities of the annual Holiday Show and brings it to life right in your own living room! You can view "North Pole Netflix" on our Facebook page!
People of the Week

Volunteers and Participants of the Week are chosen for their dedication to YC and outstanding attitudes. They are featured each week on our Facebook and Instagram. The names below reflect honorees from September 21, 2020 through December 9, 2020.

Isaiah Gundani
Gabe Davis
Lilia Stanton
Blake Weakland
Ben Goodman
Jarod Stewart
Timmy Harmon
Autumn Burns
Kelsey Hearns
K'yona Williams
Izzy Miller
Eli Silver
Megan Teets
Sean Harvey
Alex Needham
Marcus Harvey
Clare Grady
Caitlin Lione

Seneca Morton

Deegan Radcliff

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Reconnect with ACT!
See What's Next for the Alumni Community Team

Lisa and Molly catch up at a picnic table at Edgewater Park.
Lisa Friel, our Alumni Engagement Manager, reflects on the past season and the contributions of our YC alumni: 

We have the choice to use the gift of our life to make the world a better place.
~ Jane Goodall

I want to personally thank the YC Alumni Community Team (ACT!) Executive Committee for their compassionate leadership this Fall. This team was formed by Steven Kyman and consists of leaders and friends-- Sara Steimle, Sean Walker, Gabby Bova, and Janie Rapp. Together they spent numerous hours collaborating, planning, adapting, and zooming to support the alumni of YC, rooting their efforts in one message: You are not alone! They worked to develop meaningful programs that offered virtual support to their peers during the roughest times of the pandemic. And they brought joy, laughter, comfort, support, and purpose to so many people during the holiday season. Thanks for all you do to make the world a better place!

Thanks, too, to the many YC Alumni who shared their lives with the YC community this fall. YC Alumni gave over 25 hours of service, strengthening Outreach efforts in creative ways. ACT! provided virtual support by collaborating with engineering students of Mayfield HS through the Service through STEM Design Challenge, and by assisting Sarah Cooney with filming for Virtual Volunteer Training Sessions. Alumni participants promoted Advocacy by partnering with non-profits like SIL and ADA CLE, sharing their experiences as Good Life Ambassadors, and helping improve accessibility to public transportation through RTA 25 Connects. Alumni participation at our Social outings at Euclid Beach, Edgewater Park, and Mill Stream Run Reservation made our time together memorable. And your participation in our virtual Wellness Initiative enriched programming and enabled us to form a supportive network of friends. Thank you for making ACT! awesome!

A group of YC Alumni gather around the Cleveland sign at Edgewater Park with Lake Erie and downtown Cleveland in the background.

We look forward to connecting with even more alumni in the Winter/Spring session. Information about programs for YC Alumni can be found on our website and alumni Facebook page. Take a look at the virtual program offerings below. Please consider joining us for a session! All virtual alumni programs can be accessed with this link:

If you have any questions, please contact Lisa Friel, Alumni Engagement Manager at 

Special thanks to the following people, groups, organizations, and corporations who helped with programs this past season.

Alumni Community Team (ACT!)

Empower Sports

Hanna Perkins Center

St. Ignatius High School

Westpark Chipotle

Young Professionals 4 Youth Challenge (YP4YC)

Youth Challenge 
Volunteer Committee

Your support of Youth Challenge is vital in allowing us to serve hundreds of young people with physical disabilities and teen volunteers each year. Please donate to our Annual Fund today.  


Youth Challenge brings together young people with physical disabilities and teen volunteers who inspire each other through adapted sports, recreation, and social growth activities.