November Youth Champion: Chris Tolliver

Each month The Real MCCOY will be shining a spotlight on hard working Youth Development

Professionals and the great work they and their organizations do. This month’s interview is with the Avondale Meadows YMCA’s Youth and Family Lead Chris Tolliver. The Avondale Meadow’s branch of the YMCA opened in August 2013. Like YMCAs across the nation the Avalon Meadow’s mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all. Check out the interview below to learn more about Chris Tolliver and his work with the YMCA:
Why did you want to go into this line of work?
I have a passion for helping people.  When I was a child I went to camp at the YMCA and then took a few trainings that qualified me to be a camp counselor. 
I love working with the Teens and helping them to become successful students and citizens.  I feel it was a calling for me to work with the youth.  I enjoy what I do so much that it doesn’t feel like a job then I go to work.  By me being in the position to make a difference in the lives of the youth in our communities it makes me feel great about the work we do.

What was your first day on the job like?
I was 14 years old and started on a Monday at an Afterschool program.  I was young, excited, and eager to learn.  I really learned a lot from my first boss and he made a lasting impression on me and my future with the YMCA.  Since that first day of work I have been with the YMCA for 28 years now. 

 What is most rewarding about your job?
The most rewarding thing about my job is when I see my students do great things like when I see them graduate from high school and go on to college. The Youth and Government program that I run at the Avondale Meadows YMCA has been awarded the Prestigious Delegation Award from the Youth & Government state program.  Students in our delegation currently hold 4 of the 5 top state offices in the YMCA Youth & Government program including Governor. 

It is also rewarding when I see families getting gifts for their children at a Toys For Tots gifts giveaway from a partnership I formed with the Marine Corps in 1999.  This toy drive has grown over the last 14 years and currently serves almost 5,000 kids per year.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is when students don’t excel and don’t maximize their talents.  When a student that I work with doesn’t go to college or into a trade I sometimes question myself and what could I have done different to help them reach those goals. 

How has MCCOY helped your organization succeeded or grow?
The MCCOY has helped our organization in many ways to be successful.  The monthly meetings put us in contact with other youth organizations and provide a wealth of information about resources.  They also help us form partnerships and give opportunities for our youth

Where do you see yourself and your organization in five years?
I see us helping more students and moving closer to having a 100% going to college rate from the students in our college readiness program in the next 5 years.  I also see us assisting more families with Christmas help and resources for the holiday season.

We’d like to thank Mr. Tolliver for taking the time to answer our questions. For more information about the Avondale Meadows YMCA check out their website: http://www.indymca.org/centers/avondale-meadows/center-news/.

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