Volunteering With Young Adults With Disabilities Is My Jam
Posted in: News
Commitment to serving others is paramount at PSA. To close out a year that has shown us all the importance of community and compassion, we would like to spotlight PSA employee Brandon Younkin, one of our Employee Benefits consultants, and his gusto for volunteering and serving those around him in honor of international volunteer day.
While PSA has always been devoted to giving back, about a year ago, we launched a new initiative in which employees could submit a charitable/non-profit organization of their choice to be considered as the recipient of PSA employee charitable fund donations. A different employee-nominated organization is awarded these funds on a quarterly basis.
While Brandon volunteers in multiple capacities from being the chapter advisor for the Theta Chi Fraternity at Salisbury University to sitting on the Mt. Vernon Council (a development arm for Chase Brexton Health Care), one organization in particular is near and dear to his heart. Simply put, for Brandon, “working with young adults with disabilities is my jam.”
PALS is a New Jersey-based non-profit organization with a simple, yet vital mission: to provide inclusive programming for young adults with Down Syndrome. Described by Brandon, who has participated in four or five different camp/PALS events in the last few years, “PALS take a whole summer’s-worth of fun and packs it into seven days.” Volunteers, many of whom are young professionals, are paired up with a young adult with Down Syndrome. The experience is unique in that often, this seven-day overnight camp is the first time these young adults are staying away from home with a peer group. The main goal of the program is to forge transformative friendships, but also to drive inclusion in the community.
Brandon‘s journey of volunteering with PALS started about three years ago when he was asked by an attendee at a conference he facilitated if he had ever worked with the disability community. Having an educational background in special education and a passion for the population, Brandon committed on the spot and applied to work with PALS in Baltimore. He has volunteered at multiple camp weeks and even served as head ambassador of the PALS team in the mid–west for a time, teaching others how to volunteer, raise money, and recruit.
“Volunteering with PALS has given me a greater appreciation for our community and being kind to people. It has completely changed my life,” Brandon shared. PALS has allowed him to form meaningful relationships with the young adults with Down Syndrome he’s been paired with and has even allowed him to reconnect with friends from his college days who had a hand in launching PALS. For Brandon, volunteering with this organization and in general is a good way to use his time, resources, and energy.
While things will be different this year for PALS due to COVID-19 restrictions, PALS is adapting and moving their mission forward with a new, hybrid method of interaction through one-on-one weekend meetings and Zoom calls for its pairs.
Naturally, Brandon nominated PALS for the PSA charitable funds donation, and was recently awarded those funds. While the monetary contribution from PSA to PALS was impactful (enough to fund two or three young adults’ participation in the program this year), Brandon shared that “being able to share with 160 people company-wide the mission of PALS and help build that presence in the Baltimore community was my ultimate goal.”
For people like Brandon, who consider volunteering critical in life, it’s imperative to be a part of a work culture that supports the community as well. Brandon shared, “One of the reasons I wanted to join PSA was because of the community and volunteer-focused presence I saw online.” Coming from years of working in the non-profit sector, the cultural aspect of a business was high on his priority list. Like Brandon, PSA strives to hire those with a strong commitment to serving others who will represent our internal culture to the community. PSA is proud to serve our community and continue to grow and protect the assets of our clients every day of the year. If we can be of any assistance or if you have any questions about your insurance policies, please feel free to contact us.