In 2016, a program called “GEMS- Girls Empowered and Motivated to Serve” was born. I saw a need for positive female role models in our communities to influence, encourage, and inspire the youngest generation of leaders. As a contestant in the Miss America Organization, I aimed to create a community of strong, powerful girls who wish to make a difference. As I go on the road to host GEMS workshops and share a love for service with others, I decided to feature MORE amazing women who also dedicate their time and talents toward making their communities a better place.
In continuation of this blog series, meet Emily Klein, a Michigan native with a passion for leadership in youth empowerment programs.
Emily grew up in Menominee, Michigan and graduated high school in 2014. She then moved on to receive her Associate of Arts and Science degree in 2016 from UW-Marinette. Emily will soon finish her college career at UW-Stevens Point as a Studio Arts major with a minor in Business Administration. She hopes to pursue a career in graphic design (hit her up if you need some AMAZING web design work, you won’t regret it).
In the summer, Emily works as a camp coordinator at her hometown YMCA and also enjoys being a Big Sister with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program in Stevens Point.
Emily and the YMCA
At the YMCA, Emily holds a leadership position as a camp coordinator. One of her responsibilities is managing a program called Adventure Camp, where kids can gain life skills, explore the outdoors, and develop their leadership skills.
“Our mission statement is ‘to put Christian principles into practice through programs that help build a strong mind, spirit, and body for all.’ We also have four core values: Respect, Responsibility, Caring, and Honesty,” Emily said.
Emily has been with the YMCA for four years, usually involved with the child care programs each year.
“My favorite part is the summer camps. During the past two summers, I have been the coordinator for the oldest group, which works with 9-12 year-old kids. Each week during the summer, we have a different theme for Adventure Camp. My job is to plan daily activities to go along with the theme, including crafts, physical activities, and swimming,” Emily said.
A big part of Adventure Camp is keeping the kids engaged and taking them on field trips.
“Our favorite field trip is going to the animal shelter to pet all the kitties!” Emily said.
Emily initially choose to get involved at the YMCA simply because she needed a job during high school.
“I was a senior in high school and I needed a job, but the Y was much more than just a job. Everyone here is so kind and helpful. When I joined the Y, I joined a family,” Emily said.
Emily mentioned that working at the YMCA has given her the opportunity to create great relationships with many children and community members.
Emily and BBBS
Along with her involvement at the YMCA, Emily also serves as a Big Sister within the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.
BBBS makes it possible for young kids to have strong role models in their lives. Most of the Big Brothers/Sisters are in college, and Littles range from about second grade to high school.
“Just about a year ago, I was paired with a Little Sister at one of the local elementary schools. Once a week, I meet my Little for lunch. We eat lunch together and either play games or do a craft. In the summer, while I am home in Michigan, we stay in contact with each other as pen pals,” Emily said.
Emily chose to get involved with BBBS because she missed being involved with kids during the school year while she was away from home and her local YMCA.
“BBBS is such a great program to get involved with and build relationships with kids. Even though you’re only paired with one child, you’re still making a big difference,” Emily said.
Emily’s Takeaway, How To Get Involved
“The most important thing that I learned from both of these organizations is to always be kind. The children you work with come from all different places and backgrounds. Unfortunately, they aren’t always in good situations. I think it’s so important to be kind to them. Sometimes all they need is a little bit of love and attention,” Emily said.
Anyone can get involved with these organizations by applying to be a volunteer. If you want to become a Big Brother or Big Sister, check out more information on the Big Brothers Big Sisters website.
There are so many ways to get involved through the YMCA as well. If you’d like to apply at the YMCA, all you have to do is stop in at your local Y and check out the open job opportunities or ask about being a volunteer.
“I think it is so important to give back. As girls, we can help other girls and children grow up and be positive role models too. We have to lead by example,” Emily said.
Emily has chosen to be a positive role model for kids in her community. What started as a high school job soon became a passion. Working with children has helped Emily grow and has given her so many more opportunities to serve and lead.