One local Habitat for Humanity program is out to prove age is but a number when transforming communities' futures and building for others, group members say.
About 300 valley residents ages 5 to 25 make up Youth United, a Habitat for Humanity program aimed at mobilizing young people to sponsor and build a house with their local Habitat affiliate.
It is run by youths and for youths, who get leadership experience to amp up community spirit and their resumes, said Habitat for Humanity Las Vegas volunteer coordinator and Youth United advis er Bobbi Hardy .
"The program is only as good as they make it ," Hardy said. "I look at the parents as bumpers on a bowling alley, just helping guide. "(The youths) come up with their own fundraising ideas and activities."
But it's not cheap to lend a hand.
To sponsor a Habitat for Habitat build typically requires about $80,000, too large a sum for the group, Hardy said.
"Even $40,000 is a lot of money for Youth United," she said.
Also, only group members 16 or older can participate in a house build project, which alienates the younger sect.
Enter A Brush with Kindness.
The program is an exterior home preservation service under the Habitat for Humanity umbrella. All members of Youth United are able to help with painting, landscaping, weather stripping and minor repair services for qualifying homeowners in need.
The group's first strokes with A Brush with Kindness met the wall Oct. 22 during national Make a Difference Day.
The group helped clean up debris, spruce up Xeriscape and paint the house of a low-income valley woman. Members fundraise between $3,000 and $5,000 to support each project, Hardy said.
"It engages even the little ones," Hardy said.
The project was one of the first for 13-year-old member Sidney Banks .
"I went out and painted and I helped put down rocks," said Sidney, who also documented events and delegated work as a site host. "I just like helping with people."
Hardy said she has fundraisers in mind for the holiday season and plans to engage her middle school.
Events such as the Make a Difference project build up to bright opportunities in the real world, said Tiffany Blasco, a former Youth United member.
The 21-year-old was the first group president and helped build the group.
The group hosted its first Habitat for Humanity project in 2009.
The group raised about $35,000 in 18 months with fundraisers such as a fireworks stand, a large-scale Strip performance with Stomp Out Loud and outside grants and awards.
Some high schools count Youth United membership for credit, and Blasco said it helped her receive college scholarships.
"It gives you better opportunities to advance your resume for college and your work resume for the future," she said.
Youth United meetings follow a decorum, and older members mentor the youngsters, Blasco said.
"It helps build their confidence," she said.
It also diversified her social network.
"The kids meet others they might not have otherwise," Hardy said.
Youth United also recruits the children of former Habitat for Humanity home recipients.
"It gets kids off the streets and gives them something to do," Blasco said.
For more information, visit habitatlasvegas.org or call 638-6477.
Contact Centennial and North Las Vegas View reporter Maggie Lillis at email@example.com or 477-3839.