When Erin Manor began working at Youth Action Hudson she wasn't quite sure what to expect. More than a year into the experience, she is glad she signed on.
Manor, a 2008 graduate of UW-River Falls with a degree in teaching health and physical education, is an Americorps member and is in her second and final year working for Youth Action Hudson. She hoped to work with young children as a teacher but as one of two Americorps members with YAH, she works almost exclusively with teens and says the experience has been invaluable.
"I had no clue what to expect when I first came to work here but I like the idea of the organization and working with kids. It's been an eye-opening experience. I've learned a lot about how they think and operate and it has been a great, something I will take with me no matter what I end up doing," said Manor.
Manor took over the job of coordinating most of the youth activities for the group following the departure of John Oman, another Americorps member, who served as youth program coordinator. Those activities include the annual Peer to Peer workshops conducted by YAH teen volunteers for elementary and middle school students throughout the area. The workshops focus on issues like bullying, teasing and conflict resolution and involve more than 80 volunteers.
This year she will lead the annual YAH service trip to Madison where teens will have the opportunity to volunteer at the Ronald McDonald house and a homeless shelter. They will also help burn brush along the Ice Age Trail near the city.
"This is something different from our Chicago trip but we're very excited about it. We will be taking the Megabus down and the work along the trail is something different as well. I think it will be a great experience and I won't miss that long drive down to Chicago," said Manor.
She also coordinated the first YAH talent show and helps organize other volunteer projects by YAH teens like the Nov. 7 autumn yard cleanup and the annual Empty Bowl dinner in the spring to highlight hunger and poverty in the community. "The talent show was a great experience, different from anything I've done before. That is the best part of the job--that and working with the kids."
A Menomonie native, Manor's biggest project has been the launching of ReWear--A Green Closet for Teens. The store carries recycled clothing and accessories for both females and males and is operated by and for teens. Manor and other YAH staffers and board members have helped a core group of about five teens get the store up and running on the second floor of the municipal building at 911 Fourth St.
Only open since the start of the school year, Manor says ReWear is a success by her calculations. "We've made $600 so far and when you consider that nothing is priced more than $4, that's pretty good. I wasn't sure in the beginning if we could pull it off, but it is great seeing it come together."
Manor said operation of the store is being slowly turned over to the students, both boys and girls, but adult volunteers are still needed to help man it during business hours. The store is open on Tuesdays and Thursday, 2-7 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. They are also hoping to add an adult manager to work with the teen volunteers to learn as much as possible about a retail business.
In addition to the store location above the library, ReWear has a mobile storefront that Manor and volunteers set up over the lunch periods at Hudson High School this week.
When she moves on, Manor hopes to get a teaching position and would like to work with young children, if only for a change. Regardless of what she does, she says her experience with YAH and as an Americorps member has been invaluable.
For more information about YAH or to volunteer go online at www.youthactionhudson.org or call (715)386-9803.