Sunday, February 1, 2015

Volunteers for Youth Mentor Recognition Luncheon

Former news anchor encourages crowd to ‘go the extra mile’

Missionary, author and former KTUL news anchor Yvonne Lewis was among those in Claremore Wednesday, honoring local mentors or PALS and encouraging them to “go the extra mile.”

“It is my pleasure to stand before you today and convey the message to go the extra mile,” Lewis told the crowd at the annual Volunteers for Youth Mentor Recognition Luncheon. “Now you’re probably thinking ...  ‘We’re already going the extra mile’ (as mentors) — yes, you are but you know what? There’s always room to do more.

“The ‘extra mile’ I’m talking about means going beyond what you think is possible and doing that one simple act, and what it could mean to someone else — that is the extra mile,” she said. “I want you to be challenged to go your extra mile because when you share those (extra mile) stories with your family and friends and coworkers, they become inspired, and they want to go the extra mile — they want to become a volunteer — they want to become a PAL to someone who needs them.”

Lewis then told the audience about her non-profit, Leftovers Reclaimed, which takes products others have cast aside and repurposes them into works of art, illustrating if a person feels damaged, broken or tossed aside, as children of God, all are perfect and have use.

“You see, the children in our program are going through struggles and the mentors are holding them together and giving them ways to feel shiny and valuable — letting them know, they have worth and purpose,” she said. 
Lewis then recounted multiple examples of Volunteers for Youth mentors “going the extra mile” for their respective mentees, and the impact each (mentor) made in the life of their young wards.
“You know, love heals a multitude of hurt — sometimes, it’s the child’s hurt and sometimes, it’s our own hurt,” she said. “One of my favorite stories is about a young man who asked to the see the counselor (at his school), and then proceeded to tell her he was lonely and needed to see his mentor, ‘Troy’. Troy works in Catoosa and once he heard the request, he dropped what he was doing and immediately went to school where he met with the little boy for about half an hour. When Mendy (Stone, Volunteers for Youth executive director) interviewed Troy about this, he could barely keep the smile off his face, telling her that he never realized what an impact mentoring would have — on him, that it made him feel needed and like what he was doing was making a difference. It was. Troy was going the extra mile.”
Lewis then shared her own story, telling the audience what led her to leave her decades-long career in broadcasting to make a difference in the lives of others.
“It was Sept. 23, when I walked away from a career I’d invested my life in — 27 years,” she said. “I felt that I was slowly dying — I just thought there had to be more to life. I’d spent my life motivating people, encouraging people, doing whatever it is to help people — that’s all I’d ever wanted to do was help people, but this particular season in my life, I just wanted to do more, and had been praying for years about it.
“One day, I was getting ready to go for a walk and was having this conversation with God as I often do, and He said ‘You have a lot of faith’,” she said. “That was pretty cool — God telling me I had a lot of faith, but then He asked ‘Could you quit your job?’ 
“”That felt like I’d been punched in the stomach — couldn’t breathe — had to get out of my house,” she said. “I have a daughter who’s in college in Boston and I’m her sole source of income. How could I quit my job? I immediately got out of my house and went for a walk, during which, I thought I was off the hook, but I wasn’t. God began speaking other things to my heart and I ultimately heard His voice telling me He needed me to be free to be at work in the world. 
“I knew then that I had to quit my job — 27 years, lifelong career, but my only prayer was for Him to help my family to understand how I could give up a career I’d invested my life in,” she said. “My family didn’t talk to me for days, people thought I was crazy, but it didn’t matter because I knew in my heart what I had to do, much like you in this room. You know what you have to do to go the extra mile. Maybe that means taking another mentee on — I don’t know — maybe it’s spreading the message of PALS where you work, at your church or in your Sunday school classes. There’s a waiting list and the need is great. Why aren’t we doing more? We CAN do more — we can all do more. There’s something that each of us can do and I want to encourage you — all of you — to go that extra mile. Thank you.”

In addition to Lewis’s address, luncheon, PALs Alyson Short and Adam Hull received special recognition for five years as mentors, and local resident Justin Michael was recognized as Mentor of the Year.

To learn more about Volunteers for Youth, call 918-343-2530 or e-mail
To learn more about Lewis’s non-profit, visit online at 
Ret. 4-2-15

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