Guest Opinion: Service to others — gateway to youth well-being | September 24, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - September 24, 2010

Guest Opinion: Service to others — gateway to youth well-being

by Leif Erickson

Several years ago a family moved to Palo Alto in the summer, and their older son entered high school as a freshman — not knowing a soul.

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Leif Erickson is executive director of Youth Community Service (YCS) with offices in Greendell campus in Palo Alto and Ravenswood Family Health Center in East Palo Alto. YCS is a community-based non-profit that was started 20 years ago as a partnership of Palo Alto and East Palo Alto and their school districts, along with Stanford's Haas Center and the YWCA. Erickson can be e-mailed at


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Posted by Barbara Spreng
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 24, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Thank you, Leif, for sharing your -- and your son's -- personal story, as well as for "connecting the dots" between youth service, learning, personal growth and social-emotional well-being. As chair of the Youth Community Service Board of Directors, I couldn't be more confident in the value of what this organization can do. If readers would like to learn more about YCS, please visit our website

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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 25, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Absolutely: legitimate, student-driven community service such as described here is wonderful and beneficial. in all regards.
This contrasts sharply with parent-driven, parent-arranged stuent volunteer schemes (100 hours not enough any more!) to boost college app resumes - a sneaky practice utilized by some uber-competitive, pressuring PA parents. Several stories have been featured in local newspapers in recent years, including international projects or volunteering, in the fine print it is stated the mom or the grandma, etc. arranged a lot of it.

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Posted by Cynthia Chin-Lee
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 27, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Thanks for making this so tangible and easy to understand. As a parent of a former Palo high school student and an upcoming one, I will keep this in mind.

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